WASHINGTON — The National Restaurant Performance Index rose to 100.6 in January, the highest level it has reached in five months and a 1% increase from December.

“Although the current situation indicators were mixed in January, restaurant operators were decidedly more optimistic about sales growth and the economy in the months ahead,” said Hudson Riehle, senior vice-president of the research and knowledge group for the association. “Operators’ outlook for same-store sales, capital spending and the overall economy all improved, which propelled the expectations index to its highest level in eight months.”

Restaurant operators reported net positive same-store sales for the 20th consecutive month, with 44% of operators reporting a same-store sales gain and 37% reporting lower sales. In December, 42% of operators had higher same-store sales with 38% reporting a sales decline.

Operators reported a net decline in customer traffic for the second consecutive month with 33% of operators reporting higher customer traffic during the month while 40% said traffic declined.

Forty-six per cent of restaurant operators expected to have higher sales in six months, up from 37% during the previous month. Seventeen per cent of operators said sales volume will be lower than during the same period of the previous year. Additionally, 36% of operators said they expect economic conditions to improve in six months, up from 17% who said the same during the previous month. Twenty per cent of operators said they expect economic conditions to worsen in six months, down from 29% who said the same last month.