September Restaurant Performance Index Improves

by: Mark J. Perry

Buoyed by stronger same-store sales and customer traffic levels, the National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Performance Index (RPI) topped the 100 mark in September for the first time in three months.

The Restaurant Performance Index consists of two components - the Current Situation Index (measuring current trends) and the Expectations Index (measuring restaurant operators’ six-month outlook) - and tracks the health of and outlook for the U.S. restaurant industry.

The Current Situation Index stood at 100.1 in September – up 0.8 percent from August and the first gain in three months (see chart above). In addition, the Current Situation Index rose above 100 for the first time since June.

Restaurant operators reported stronger same-store sales and customer traffic in September. Fifty percent of restaurant operators reported a same-store sales gain between September 2010 and September 2011, up from 45 percent who reported a sales gain in August. In addition, 43 percent of restaurant operators reported higher customer traffic levels between September 2010 and September 2011, while 33 percent of operators reported a traffic decline.

The Expectations Index stood at 100.2 in September – up 0.7 percent from August and the strongest gain in nine months (see chart). In addition, September represented the first time in three months that the Expectations Index stood above 100.