With same-store sales on the rise, and competition growing throughout the industry, restaurants around the country are experiencing a strong resurgence that will likely only last longer thanks to the bright summer ahead.
Restaurant Performance Index crests 10-month high
According to the National Restaurant Association, the monthly Restaurant Performance Index hit its highest point since May 2013 in March. The index's metrics, where anything over 100 forecasts positive growth for the industry, stood at 101.4 at the end of the first quarter of 2014, up about 1 percent from the previous month.
The RPI also stood above 100 for the 13th consecutive month, which means the industry recently passed a year of expansion in full. This was said to be boosted by multiple factors, ranging from stronger sales to improved weather around the country.
Much of the growth seen in March was because of a rise in the Current Situation Index, which tracks the most recent levels of sales, traffic and spending in the industry. The CSI stood at 100.8 in March, rising above 100 for the first time in 2014 and up 1.5 percent from the previous month. This is because 55 percent of restaurant operators saw year-over-year sales gains, a rise of 11 percent from the previous month. Another 11 percent saw more customer traffic, which hit a new high of 46 percent of all respondents.
Meanwhile, the Expectations Index, which registers the outlook for the next six months, also rose during the month to reach a new total of 102. This was the 17th month in a row that the future looked bright for operators, as 49 percent expected higher sales through September.
Restaurant sales as whole on upswing
GE Capital's most recent Chain Restaurant Industry Review reported even higher prospects for the dining sector. While consumer traffic has been declining somewhat, with ingredient costs and competition for markets also seeing increases, the overall industry has remained strong.
Overall restaurant sales in 2013 were seen to rise by 3.1 percent, with even higher sales expected in 2014. By the end of the year, predictions point to a total increase of 3.6 percent. Even when figures seemed low, they still had positive factors. Same store sales decreased 0.1 percent in that time, but the average check per visitor rose by as much as 2.6 percent.
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