Restaurant Performance Index flat in April

by Eric Schroeder
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WASHINGTON — The National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Performance Index (R.P.I.) was virtually unchanged in April, finishing at 100.9 after ending at 101 in March. It was the fifth consecutive month in which the R.P.I. was above 100, boosted in large part to positive same-store sales and solid optimism among restaurant operators for continued growth.

“The restaurant industry continued to build momentum in April, with restaurant operators reporting positive same-store sales and customer traffic levels for the sixth time in the last eight months,” said Hudson Riehle, senior vice-president of the Research and Knowledge Group for the N.R.A. “Barring any significant external shocks, restaurant sales and traffic levels will continue to improve in the months ahead.”

The Current Situation Index, which measures current trends in four industry indicators, including same-store sales, traffic, labor and capital expenditures, stood at 100.3 in April, up slightly from a March level of 100.2.

The R.P.I.’s Expectations Index, which measures restaurant operators’ six-month outlook, stood at 101.5 in April, down slightly from a level of 101.7 in March. It was the ninth consecutive month in which the index finished above 100.

Restaurant operators remain bullish about sales growth in the months ahead, with 47% saying they expect to have higher sales in six months, down slightly from 50% who reported similarly in March. Conversely, just 13% of restaurant operators expect sales volume in six months to be lower than it was during the same period a year ago, the same as reported in March.

Although the sales outlook is positive, restaurant operators said they are not as optimistic about the overall direction of the economy. Thirty-three per cent of operators said they expect economic conditions to improve in six months, up from 32% who reported similarly last month. Meanwhile, 17% of operators said they expect economic conditions to worsen in the next six months, which compared with 19% who reported similarly in March.

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