WASHINGTON — The National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Performance Index in May reached 101.8, a 14-month high.

“The May increase in the Restaurant Performance Index was driven by broad-based gains in the current situation indicators, most notably positive same-store sales and customer traffic results,” said Hudson Riehle, senior vice-president of the association’s Research and Knowledge Group. “In addition, restaurant operators remain optimistic about continued sales growth and a majority plan to make a capital expenditure in the next six months.”

May’s levels represented a 0.9% increase from April and the third consecutive monthly gain.

The Current Situation Index, which looks at same-store sales, traffic, labor and capital expenditures, was at 101.6 in May, up 1.6% from April’s level and the highest level since March 2012.

Also in May, 63% of operators reported a same-store sales gain compared with the previous year, up from 49% who said they had higher sales in April. Only 23% of operators saw a decline in same-store sales during this month, down from 33% in April.

Customer traffic was also up in May with 47% of operators reporting higher customer traffic levels and only 30% noting a decline in traffic. This compared with 36% of operators who saw an increase in traffic and 30% who saw lower traffic in April.

Overall, operators are fairly optimistic about what their situation will be like in six months with 47% of operators saying they expect to have higher sales then compared with the previous year. This is up from 41% last month. Also, just 8% of operators expect to have lower sales volume in six months.

Operators aren’t as optimistic about the overall economy with only 36% of operators saying they expect economic conditions to improve in six months, nearly flat from 28% who said the same last month. Fifteen per cent said they expect economic conditions to be worse in six months, up from 13% who said the same last month.