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Restaurant industry barometer turns negative in February


Softer same-store sales and lower customer traffic levels drove the National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Performance Index (RPI) below 100 in February, association officials announced Friday morning.

The RPI – a monthly composite index that tracks the health of and outlook for the U.S. restaurant industry – stood at 99.9 in February, down 0.8 percent from January’s five-month high, restaurant association officials said. February represented the fourth time in the last five months that the RPI stood below 100, which signifies contraction in the index of key industry indicators.

“The Restaurant Performance Index decline was due largely to softer sales and traffic results, which fell in February amid higher gas prices and the impact of the payroll tax hike,” said Hudson Riehle, the association’s senior vice president of the Research and Knowledge Group. “In addition, sales and traffic comparisons were more difficult due to the extra day in February 2012 as a result of Leap Year.”

Other restaurant barometers that have shown sales declines in February have cited poor weather through much of the nation as a contributing factor.

“Despite the sales and traffic declines in February, restaurant operators remain generally optimistic about business conditions in the months ahead, which suggests they feel the setbacks will be temporary,” Riehle added.


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