Traffic Hits Five-Month High In Latest RPI

Driven by stronger same-store sales and the highest customer traffic levels in five months, the NRA’s Restaurant Performance Index registered a healthy gain in August. The RPI stood at 102.0 in August, up 1.0 point from a level of 101.1 in July, and at its highest level since December 2017.

The Current Situation Index stood at 102.3 in August, up 1.6 point from July and the highest level since December. August represented the seventh consecutive month in which the Current Situation Index stood above the 100 level in expansion territory.

The August increase was bolstered by broad-based gains in the Current Situation Index, which rebounded from softness in July. August saw the strongest growth in same-store sales since last December. It was the tenth consecutive month of a net increase, with a surging 58% of operators seeing sales rise—up from 47% who reported stronger sales in July.

Customer traffic also was up in August, with 43% of operators reporting a year-over-year increase, up from 32% who reported an increase in July. At the same time, the number of operators reporting a decline in traffic fell from 41% in July to 30% in August. Those figures signal the first net increase in customer traffic in the past five months

The Expectations Index—measuring operators’ six-month outlook on same-store sales, employees, capital expenditures and business conditions—stood at 101.7 in August, up 0.4 point over July. The Index has trended sideways for the last few months after posting a nearly three-year high in December.

Two-thirds of operators said they’d made a capital expenditure for equipment, expansion or remodeling during the last three months, marking the sixth consecutive month in which at least six in 10 operators reported such news. Looking ahead, a similar number anticipate opening their wallets for another such expenditure.

Overall, four in 10 operators expect to see higher sales in six months but only a quarter say they expect overall economic conditions to improve.

The full RPI report can be found here.

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