Restaurant sales and traffic were up slightly in November, and operator optimism for the coming months improved, the monthly National Restaurant Association survey indicates.
The NRA’s Restaurant Performance Index, released at the end of December, stood at 101.1 in November, up from 100.9 in October. RPI surveys measure industry health, with values higher than 100 indicating a period of expansion and values below 100 indicating a period of contraction.
The RPI’s expectations component, which indicates operator sentiment for sales and traffic in the next six months, stood at 102.6 in November, up 0.3 percent from October’s 102.4.
“The gain marked the third consecutive monthly increase, which elevated the forward-looking component to its highest level in nine months,” the index overview noted.
“Restaurant operators are becoming more optimistic that business conditions will improve in the months ahead,” according to the RPI, with 46 percent of surveyed restaurant operators expecting to have higher sales in six months compared to the same period in the previous year.
That was up from 44 percent in October. Just 9 percent of restaurant operators expected their sales volume in six months to be lower than it was during the same period in the previous year, and 45 percent of operators said their sales would remain about the same.
“Restaurant operators are also increasingly optimistic about the direction of the economy,” the RPI noted. The survey found 37 percent of restaurant operators said they expect economic conditions to improve in six months, up from 32 percent in October, and it was the highest level since December 2016.
“Only 6 percent of operators think economic conditions will worsen in six months, which resulted in the strongest net positive outlook for the economy in three years,” the Index noted.
A majority of restaurant operators, about 60 percent, were planning capital expenditures for equipment, expansion or remodeling, the RPI said.
The RPI’s “Current Situation Index” stood at 99.6 in November, up slightly from 99.5 in October. Despite the modest increase, November represented the third consecutive month in which the current situation component was in contraction.
The Current Situation Index measures current trends in four industry indicators: same-store sales, traffic, labor and capital expenditures.
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