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 101.4 in February – down slightly from January's level of 101.6. Each of the four expectations indicators stood above 100 for the second consecutive month, which suggests restaurant operators remain generally optimistic about business conditions in the months ahead.
Although restaurant operators' outlook for sales growth remains positive, their expectations are slightly less bullish compared to last month. Forty-one percent of restaurant operators expect to have higher sales in six months (compared to the same period in the previous year), down from 46 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, compared to 17 percent last month.
Although restaurant operators have a net positive outlook for the overall economy for the second consecutive month, their confidence is tenuous. Twenty-five percent of restaurant operators said they expect economic conditions to improve in six months, down from 30 percent who reported similarly last month. Meanwhile, 20 percent of operators said they expect economic conditions to worsen in the next six months, unchanged from last month.
Restaurant operators continue to make plans for capital spending in the months ahead. Fifty-seven percent of restaurant operators plan to make a capital expenditure for equipment, expansion or remodeling in the next six months, down slightly from 59 percent who reported similarly last month.The RPI is based on the responses to the National Restaurant Association's Restaurant Industry Tracking Survey, which is fielded monthly among restaurant operators nationwide on a variety of indicators including sales, traffic, labor and capital expenditures. The full report is available online at Restaurant.org/RPI. The RPI is released on the last business day of each month, and a more detailed data and analysis can be found on Restaurant TrendMapper, the Association's subscription-based web site that provides detailed analysis of restaurant industry trends. Founded in 1919, the National Restaurant Association is the leading business association for the restaurant industry, which comprises 980,000 restaurant and foodservice outlets and a workforce of more than 13 million employees. We represent the industry in Washington, D.C., and advocate on its behalf. We operate the industry's largest trade show ( NRA Show May 18-21, 2013, in Chicago); leading food safety training and certification program ( ServSafe); unique career-building high school program (the NRAEF's ProStart, including the National ProStart Invitational April 19-21, 2013, in Baltimore, Md.); as well as the Kids LiveWell program promoting healthful kids' menu options. For more information, visit Restaurant.org and find us on Twitter @WeRRestaurants, Facebook and YouTube. SOURCE National Restaurant Association