The latest information regarding the Restaurant Performance Index for the month of December saw positive results for the tenth consecutive month, and while there was a slight decline in its figures, that was mostly due to factors outside of owners' control.

Restaurant News reports that the latest index released by the National Restaurant Association, fell by 0.6 percent in December, which was its first decline in three months. However, despite the dip, the RPI stood at 100.5 for the month, remaining above 100, which represents overall industry growth. The figure hasn't fallen since February.

"The December decline in the RPI was due to a dip in the current situation indicators, which in turn was partly caused by inclement weather in large parts of the country," said Hudson Riehle, the senior vice president of the Research and Knowledge Group for the Association.  "Despite the softer December results, restaurant operators remain generally optimistic about business conditions in the months ahead."

Situation Index falls, Expectations Index increases
The RPI is comprised of two separate figures, the first focused on current trends in sales, traffic, labor and expenditures and the latter regarding industry outlooks for the next six months. While the current outlook of the industry fell by 1.7 percent in December, restaurant owners still reported net-positive sales in the month. Customer traffic levels were smaller than expected, though capital spending remained high. More than half of operators reported making an equipment, expansion or remodeling purchase in the last three months.

Expectations were higher, rising by 0.4 percent in the month for the 14th consecutive period of growth. Operators were positive about having higher sales in the next six months, though the economy is more of a sticking point. Despite this, 61 percent of operators are planning new expenditures in the next half year, up 6 percent..

Websites can increase sales
One way for the restaurant industry to boost its sales overall is via mobile-friendly websites, according to Pizza Marketplace. More than half of all adults use smartphones in today's marketplace, but only 52 percent of restaurant websites are mobile-friendly. To expand their markets and achieve more new store traffic, experts recommend that businesses develop their websites to account for this new form of audience interest, as otherwise firms can fall behind their competitors. What's more, few technical skills are said to be needed for this newfound change.

Hospitality and restaurant industry piece brought to you by Marlin Equipment Finance, leaders in food service equipment financing. Marlin is a nationwide provider of equipment financing solutions supporting equipment suppliers and manufacturers in the security, food services, healthcare, information technology, office technology and telecommunications sectors.