Same-store sales bump up restaurant index

by Jeff Gelski
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In April, 55% of restaurant operators reported an increase in customer traffic between April 2014 and April 2015.

WASHINGTON — The Restaurant Performance Index stood at 102.7 in April, up from 102.2 in March, as 71% of restaurant operators reported a same-store sales gain between April 2014 and April 2015.

“While individual indicators experienced some choppiness in recent months, the overall R.P.I. stood above the 102 level for seven consecutive months,” said Hudson Riehle, senior vice-president of the research and knowledge group for the Washington-based National Restaurant Association. “This was driven by consistent majorities of restaurant operators reporting positive same-store sales as well as an optimistic outlook for sales growth in the months ahead.”

The Restaurant Performance Index, a monthly composite index that tracks the health and outlook for the U.S. restaurant industry, consists of two components. The Current Situation Index measures the four industry indicators of same-store sales, customer traffic, labor and capital expenditures. The Expectations Index measures the six-month outlook for the four industry indicators of same-store sales, employees, capital expenditures and business conditions.

The Current Situation Index jumped to 102.9 in April from 101.9 in March. The 71% of restaurant operators reporting a same-store sales gain was up from 62% in March. Also, 13% of operators reported a same-store sales decline in April compared to 24% in March.

In April, 55% of restaurant operators reported an increase in customer traffic between April 2014 and April 2015, which compared with 45% in March. Twenty-five per cent of operators said traffic declined in April, down 34% from March. Fifty-six per cent of operators said they made a capital expenditure for equipment, expansion or remodeling during the last three months.

The Expectations Index dipped to 102.5 in April from 102.6 in March. The percentage of restaurant operators expecting to have higher sales in six months when compared with the same period in the previous year fell to 52% in April from 59% in March. In April, 6% of operators said they expect their sales volume in six months to be lower, which compared to 3% in March.

When asked whether they expect economic conditions to improve in six months, 28% of operators said yes in April, which compared with 35% in March. In April, 13% said they expect conditions to worsen, and 59% said they expect conditions in six months to be about the same. In April, 59% of operators said they plan to make a capital expenditure for equipment, expansion or remodeling in the next six months, which compared with 53% in March.
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