The National Restaurant Association’s (NRA) comprehensive index of restaurant activity -- the Restaurant Performance Index (RPI) -- declined in September by 0.3 from the previous month to stand at 100.4 due to softer sales and traffic. Despite the decline, September represented the 11th consecutive month the RPI stood above 100, which signifies continued expansion in the index of key industry indicators.
"Although restaurant operators reported softer same-store sales and customer traffic levels in September, they are somewhat more bullish about sales growth in the months ahead," said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of the Research and Knowledge Group for the association. "Forty-five percent of restaurant operators expect their sales to improve in the next six months, while only 11 percent expect weaker sales."
But despite their generally positive outlook for sales, restaurant operators are more uncertain about the direction of the overall economy. The NRA says 26% of restaurant operators said they expect economic conditions to improve in six months, down slightly from 29% last month. Meanwhile, 18% of operators said they expect economic conditions to worsen in the next six months, while 56% think conditions will stay about the same.
Juli says: The concern with the RPI declining in September is further declines will be seen ahead of the holidays as consumers plan their gift purchases. But the fact the RPI has held above 100 is important as a drop below that level can reflect a downturn in red meat demand for this sector.