Restaurant operators reported positive same-store sales for the 18 th consecutive month, with November's results representing the strongest performance in three months. Fifty-five percent of restaurant operators reported a same-store sales gain between November 2011 and November 2012, up from 40 percent who reported positive sales in October. Meanwhile, 30 percent of operators reported lower same-store sales in November, down from 36 percent in October.
Restaurant operators also reported a net gain in customer traffic levels in November. Forty-three percent of restaurant operators reported higher customer traffic levels between November 2011 and November 2012, up from 30 percent who reported positive traffic in October. Meanwhile, 35 percent of operators reported lower customer traffic levels in November, down from 41 percent in October.
Although sales and traffic results improved, restaurant operators reported a dip in capital spending. Thirty-seven percent of operators said they made a capital expenditure for equipment, expansion or remodeling during the last three months, the lowest level in 32 months.
The Expectations Index, which measures restaurant operators' six-month outlook for four industry indicators (same-store sales, employees, capital expenditures and business conditions), stood at 100.0 in November – up 0.4 percent from October. Although November was an improvement over October's reading of 99.7, it still signals that restaurant operators are uncertain about the business environment in the months ahead.Restaurant operators are somewhat more optimistic about sales growth in the coming months. Thirty-seven percent of restaurant operators expect to have higher sales in six months (compared to the same period in the previous year), up from 31 percent last month. Meanwhile, 14 percent of restaurant operators expect their sales volume in six months to be lower than it was during the same period in the previous year, down from 21 percent last month.