Foodservice Equipment Reports

NRA’s RPI Fell Again In December, But Cap-Ex Measures Jumped

Steep declines in the indicators for current same-store sales and traffic pushed the National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Performance Index lower in December. But the two markers that track operator capital spending posted strong gains and all the other indicators rose or were flat. Still, the overall index stood  at 99.7, the third month the index has remained below the 100 level that separates expansion from contraction.

The Current Situation Index fell to 99.1, a drop of 0.7 point, to reach its lowest level since January 2011. The current same-store sales measure dropped 2.1 points and the traffic index was off 2.5 points. Same-store sales did remain a net positive for the 19th consecutive month.

The Expectation Index rose 0.3 point and remains above the 100 tipping point for the fourth month out of the last five at 100.3. But the gain was mostly a result of a full-point jump in the market which tracks operators’ intentions to make a capital buy during the next six months. That index managed to reach an even 100 in December as 50% of those surveyed said they would spend money on equipment or facilities. The percentage rose from 45% in November.

Still operators expectations for future business conditions remain quite low. Only 17% of those surveyed in December see improving economic conditions six months out, while nearly a third expect conditions to get worse. Operators do have higher expectations for improvement in their own sales, with 37% foreseeing a gain.

The capital expenditure indicator in the Current Situation Index, a reflection of those who made a capital buy during the past three months, showed a strong 1.6 point gain and now stands at 99. Of those surveyed, 45% reported a purchase, up from November’s weak 37%, a 32-month low.

The complete Restaurant Performance Index can be downloaded at restaurant.org, where one also can purchase NRA’s 2013 Industry Forecast.

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