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NRA index hits highest level in three years

NRA index hits highest level in three years

Stronger sales and improved customer traffic bumped the National Restaurant Association’s performance index for October to its highest level in more than three years.

The Restaurant Performance Index, a monthly composite that tracks the health of and outlook for the U.S. restaurant industry, rose to 100.7 in October, up 0.4 percentage points from September. That was the highest level since September 2007.

“October’s RPI gain was driven by continued improvements in the same-store sales and customer traffic indicators,” said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of the NRA’s research and knowledge group. “Most notably, a majority of restaurant operators reported higher same-store sales in October, the first such occurrence since August 2007.”

Riehle added that restaurateurs in October expressed sales-growth optimism “and also reported a positive outlook for staffing levels for the first time in six months.” Click here for a video of Riehle's industry update.

The NRA’s performance index gauges restaurant operators’ current situation and expectations. October’s Current Situation Index, which measures trends in same-store sales, traffic, labor and capital expenditures, stood at 100.0 in October, up 0.6 percentage points from September and its second consecutive monthly gain.

About 51 percent of restaurant operators reported same-store sales gains between October 2009 and October 2010, up from 44 percent of operators in September and the first time since August 2007 that a majority of operators reported higher same-store sales. Only 33 percent of operators reported a same-store sales decline in October, down from 38 percent of operators who reported negative sales in September.

Customer-traffic increases were reported by 44 percent of operators between October 2009 and the same month last year, up from 38 percent of operators who reported higher traffic in September. Traffic declines were reported by 34 percent of operators, down from 37 percent in September.

The Expectations Index, which measures operators’ six-month outlook for same-store sales, employees, capital expenditures and business conditions, was 101.4 in October, up 0.3 percent points from September. That marked the strongest level in six months.

The RPI is based on the responses to the NRA’s monthly Restaurant Industry Tracking Survey. Click here for the full report.

Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected].

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