Foodservice Equipment Reports

NRA’s “Plan To Buy Equipment” Marker Hit Post-Recession High In December

Inclement weather and a short holiday shopping season battered restaurant operators same-store sales and traffic counts in December, according to the National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Performance Index tracking study. But the indicator that tracks restaurateurs’ intention to make a capital purchase during the next six months surged 1.3 point to 102.2, its highest level since March 2007. The overall RPI fell 0.6 point, but remained in expansion territory for the 10th consecutive month at 100.5. All index numbers above 100 indicate expansion while those below signal contraction.

Sixty-one percent of operators surveyed reported they plan to buy equipment and/or improve facilities in the next six months, up from 55% in the November survey. During the Great Recession, as few as 30% had such intentions. Four of five operator segments detailed in the tracking survey—casual dining, fine dining, quick service and fast casual—have a majority of those surveyed planning to buy equipment. But only 41% of family dining operators intended to buy equipment in December.

The RPI’s other cap-ex marker, which tracks those who made a capital buy in the past three months, fell 0.4 point but remained above the 100 tipping point for the eighth consecutive month.

Operators also were reasonably optimistic about business conditions over the next six months; that indicator improved by 0.7 point to 101.2. It had slipped below 100 last September as operators worried about a federal-government shutdown and debt-ceiling brinkmanship but since has improved steadily. The RPI’s four-component Expectations Index, which includes the cap-ex and business-condition indicators, rose 0.4 point to 101.5, its highest level since April 2013.

Things were tough enough in December, however, that the Current Situation Index fell 1.7 points ending at 99.5. Current same-store sales and traffic fell 2.4 points and 2.8 points respectively. The traffic indicator nosedived to 98.4, but the same-store marker remained in expansion territory at 100.3.

The complete RPI report is available at the NRA’s website, restaurant.org.

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