Citing softer same-store sales and customer traffic, the National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Performance Index declined in January, according to Hudson Riehle, our senior vice president of research.

Riehle said the RPI was at 101.2, down 0.4 percent from 101.6 in December.

According to the RPI’s results, 52 percent of restaurant operators reported a same-store sales increase between January 2018 and January 2019, down from the 60 percent who reported higher sales in December.

Despite the results, Riehle said nearly one-half of restaurateurs surveyed for the index claimed they were optimistic their sales would increase in the next six months.

Here are some additional takeaways for the economy and the industry:

Job growth
Restaurants added another 37,000 jobs in January
, pushing industry employment up 2.4 percent over the past year, compared with 1.9 percent for national employment. During the last year, the industry added 282,000 jobs.

Capital spending
Fifty-five percent of operators made a capital expenditure
on equipment, expansion or remodeling within the last three months. In addition, 57 percent said they plan to make a capital expenditure within the next six months.

The commodities market
Regarding wholesale food price inflation, that index was up 0.7 percent in January, on a year-over-year basis. Prices of certain commodity groups also rose, including:

  • Fresh vegetables, up 17 percent
  • Bread, up 4 percent, and
  • Beef, which increased 4 percent
  • Prices on other wholesale commodities, such as citrus and eggs, declined over the same period

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