Friday, January 30, 2015

Restaurant Performance Index shows Expansion in December

by Bill McBride on 1/30/2015 05:47:00 PM

I think restaurants are happy with lower gasoline prices (except, I hear, McDonald's) ...

Here is a minor indicator I follow from the National Restaurant Association: Restaurant Performance Index Finished the Year on a Positive Note

Driven by positive sales and traffic and an uptick in capital expenditures, the National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Performance Index (RPI) finished 2014 with a solid gain. The RPI – a monthly composite index that tracks the health of and outlook for the U.S. restaurant industry – stood at 102.9 in December, up 0.8 percent from its November level of 102.1. In addition, December marked the 22nd consecutive month in which the RPI stood above 100, which signifies expansion in the index of key industry indicators.

“Growth in the RPI was driven by the current situation indicators in December, with a solid majority of restaurant operators reporting higher same-store sales and customer traffic levels,” said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of the Research and Knowledge Group for the Association. “In addition, six in 10 operators reported making a capital expenditure during the fourth quarter, with a similar proportion planning for capital spending in the first half of 2015.”

“Overall, the RPI posted three consecutive months above 102 for the first time since the first quarter of 2006, which puts the industry on a positive track heading into 2015,” Riehle added.
emphasis added
Restaurant Performance Index Click on graph for larger image.

The index increased to 102.9 in December, down from 102.1 in November. (above 100 indicates expansion).

Restaurant spending is discretionary, so even though this is "D-list" data, I like to check it every month. This is a very solid reading - and it is likely restaurants are benefiting from lower gasoline prices.