Foodservice Equipment Reports

A Bit Surprisingly, NRA Performance Index Rises In March

We must admit we thought the National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Performance Index would fall back in March. After all, the full impact of rapidly rising gasoline prices hit American consumers during the month. But thankfully, no, the overall index rose 0.3 point to 101. It’s the fourth consecutive month the index has stood above the 100 level that signals restaurant industry expansion versus contraction.

Current Situation Index indicators same-store sales and customer traffic were up 0.9 point and 1.1 points respectively, a sign consumers ate out more often, rather than less, during the month. The CSI also crossed the 100 tipping point for the first time in 43 months, reaching 100.2. The CSI briefly hit 100 in October last year, before falling back under 100 until this March reading. The labor measure in the CSI also rose 1.2 point.

But operators surveyed for the RPI continued to express some worry about future business conditions. The marker for business conditions six months out, part of the Expectations Index, fell for the second straight month, off 0.7 point to 101.2. The staffing expectations indicator was off 0.2 point, helping push the EI down 0.1 point to 101.7.

The two capital expenditures indicators showed little movement in March. The indicator for those that made a capital buy during the past three months fell slightly and remained the weakest component in the eight-component RPI, at 97.9. The marker tracking operators’ plans to make a capital expenditure during the next six months rose 0.2 point to 100.6.

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