Restaurant Performance Index steady in January

by Keith Nunes
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WASHINGTON — The National Restaurant Association’s (N.R.A.) Restaurant Performance Index, a rating of industry activity based on a variety of indicators, stood at 98.9 in January, a slight uptick from 98.7 in December 2007.

"The January uptick in the Restaurant Performance Index was the result of a moderate gain in the expectations indicators," said Hudson Riehle, senior vice-president of research and information services for the N.R.A. "Although restaurant operators’ outlook for the economy remains uncertain, they are somewhat more optimistic about sales and staffing gains in the months ahead."

The N.R.A.’s Current Situation Index, which measures current trends in four industry indicators, such as same-store sales, traffic, labor and capital expenditures, stood at 97.9 in January, down 0.2% from December 2007. It is the third consecutive monthly decline. In addition, January marked the fifth consecutive month below 100, which signifies contraction in the current situation indicators.

"Despite the improvement in the forward-looking indicators, the current situation indicators still reflected a challenging period for restaurants," Mr. Riehle said.

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