R.P.I. shows restaurateurs are optimistic

by Keith Nunes
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WASHINGTON — The National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Performance Index (R.P.I.) rose to its highest level in 27 months this past February. The R.P.I. stood at 99, up 0.7% from January and its highest level since November 2007.

“The R.P.I.’s strong gain in February was the result of broad-based improvements among the forward-looking indicators,” said Hudson Riehle, senior vice-president of the N.R.A.’s Research and Knowledge Group. “Restaurant operators’ optimism for sales growth stood at its strongest level in 29 months, with capital spending plans also rising to a two-year high.”

The R.P.I. is a monthly composite index that features two components — The current situation index and the expectations index. The current situation index was 96.7 in February, a slight increase to the January figure of 96.6.

Restaurant operators reported negative same store sales in February, and 28% said they experienced a same-store sales gain between February 2009 and February 2010, compared with 27% of operators who reported higher sales in January.

Despite the challenging performance in February, the R.P.I.’s expectations index showed operators are increasingly optimistic about improving market conditions. The expectations index, which measures an operators six-month outlook, stood at 101.4 in February, a 1.2% increase compared to January.

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