WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Restaurant Performance Index, released by the National Restaurant Association, declined for the third consecutive month in June.

The index was at 99.5 in June, down 0.3% from May and the lowest level since February. Also, the index was below 100 for the second consecutive month, signifying contraction in the index of industry indicators.

“Although the current situation indicators registered a modest improvement in June, each of the four expectations indicators dipped for the second consecutive month,” said Hudson Riehle, senior vice-president of the research and knowledge group for the N.R.A. “Restaurant operators are generally optimistic that sales and business conditions will improve in the next six months, but the strength of their optimism fell to a five-month low.”

Restaurant operators reported a net decline in same-stores sales for the third consecutive month in June, but the results were still a slight improvement from May. Thirty-nine per cent of operators saw same-stores sales gains between June 2009 and June 2010, which was up from 35% of operators who reported higher sales in May. In addition, 43% of operators had same-store sales declines in June, down from 46% of operators who had negative sales in May.

The expectations index measuring the six-month outlook stood at 100.2 in June, which was down 0.6% from May and at its lowest level in five months. However, the index has been above 100 for six consecutive months representing expansion in forward-looking indicators. In addition, 42% of operators expect to have higher sales in the next six months, but they are not as optimistic about the state of the overall economy with only 28% of restaurant operators saying they expect overall economic conditions to improve during the next six months.