What To Know From the Latest Restaurant Performance Index

Though the RPI rose in May, operators’ outlook on the economy continues to worsen.

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May's RPI made a moderate gain of 0.5% after dropping 1.5% in April. Courtesy of Canva.

While the National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Performance Index (RPI) dipped in April, May proved to be a stronger month, with restaurant operators reporting positive same-store sales and traffic compared to last year.

According to the latest report, the RPI rose 0.5% in May to 102.6. Levels above 100—considered the “neutral” level—indicate overall expansion for the restaurant industry, while values below 100 represent a period of contraction for key industry indicators. The RPI is based on a Current Situation Index and an Expectations Index.

The Current Situation Index (which measures trends in four categories: same-store sales, traffic, labor and capital expenditures) saw a “healthy increase,” rising 1.2% in May to 103.6. However, the Expectations Index (which measures same-store sales, employees, capital expenditures and business conditions) dropped 0.3% to 101.6, marking the fifth consecutive monthly decline.

“While a majority of restaurant operators expect their sales to increase in the coming months, they are decidedly pessimistic about the direction of the overall economy,” says the association, further noting that four in 10 restaurant operators expect economic conditions to worsen in the next six months—the highest reading since 2008.

Here are some other key figures from the latest RPI:

  • 71%: The percentage of restaurant operators who said their same-store sales rose between May 2021 and May 2022—up from 63% in April.
  • 55%: The percentage of restaurant operators reporting their customer traffic rose between May 2021 and May 2022—up from 51% in April.
  • 71%: The percentage of restaurant operators who made a capital expenditure for equipment, expansion or remodeling during the last three months, representing the fifth consecutive month with readings of at least 60%.
  • 55%: The percentage of restaurant operators who expect their sales volume in six months to be higher than during the same period in the previous year—up from 49% last month.
  • 18%: The percentage of restaurant operators who think economic conditions will improve in six months, representing the fourth consecutive month in which operators had a pessimistic outlook for the economy.
  • 59%: The percentage of restaurant operators planning to make a capital expenditure for equipment, expansion or remodeling during the next six months—down from 70% last month.

Launched in 2002, the National Restaurant Association’s RPI is a monthly composite index that tracks the health of the U.S. restaurant industry. The latest index can be viewed in its entirety here.

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