Optimism among restaurant operators declining

by FoodBusinessNews.net Staff
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WASHINGTON — For the month of February, the National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Performance Index was 98.8. This represents the fourth month the index has fallen below 100.

"Although restaurant operators reported positive sales for the first time in four months, they were less optimistic about growth in the months ahead," said Hudson Riehle, senior vice-president of Research and Information Services for the N.R.A. "Operators’ outlook for sales growth and the economy deteriorated sharply, which led to a record-low reading in restaurant operators’ outlook and expectations."

Restaurant operators indicated for the first time in 29 months recruiting and retaining employees was not their top challenge. Instead 26% of operators said the economy was the biggest challenge facing their business and 19% stated food costs were the biggest challenge. In addition, building and maintaining sales volume and recruiting and retaining employees were each identified as the top challenge by 15% of operators.

Optimism about sales growth in coming months is declining as well with 30% of operators saying they expect to have higher sales in six months. This number is down 32% from last month. Also, 34% of operators anticipate sales volume in six months to be lower than it was during the same period of the previous year, down from 31% who said the same last month.

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