Foodservice Equipment Reports

Sales And Traffic Up, Capital Spending Down In January NRA Performance Index

Restaurant industry indicators tracked by the National Restaurant Association’s monthly Restaurant Performance Index were mixed in January, the association reported Feb. 27. Buoyed by dramatically lower prices for gasoline and strong employment trends, consumers helped push same-store sales and traffic higher. But the two measures following capital spending activity dropped sharply and operators were also slightly less positive about the future business environment. Still, the overall index is running at levels not seen since 2004. It stood above 102 for the fourth consecutive month and has been in expansion territory—indicated by readings above 100—for 23 straight months.

The overall index fell 0.2 point to 102.7. The Current Situation Index was off 0.3 point as the marker tracking capital spending activity the past three months dropped 1.7 points and the labor component fell 0.2 point. The current same-store sales indicator rose 0.2 point while that for customer traffic was up 0.7 point.

Of those operators surveyed, 51% said they made a capital buy during the past three months, down sharply from 60% who indicated cap ex purchases in the December survey.

The Expectations Index fell only 0.1 point to 102.8. The six-month outlooks for same-store sales and staffing trends were up 0.5 point and 0.6 point respectively. But these gains were not enough to offset a 0.6 point drop in the outlook for business conditions or a full point decline in intentions to make a capital purchase during the next six months. Fifty-seven percent of those surveyed expressed such an intention, down from 62% in the December survey.

The full RPI as well as a video overview of this month’s survey by NRA Senior V.P.-Research Hudson Riehle is available on the NRA website at restaurant.org.

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