The National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Performance Index posted a sharp decline in April, the result of the current operating environment and weakening future expectations.

The RPI for April was 100.1, a decrease of 1.8 percent. In addition, the operator outlook on business conditions over the next six months declined 0.7 percent, said Hudson Riehle, the Association’s senior vice president of research.

Here are some highlights from the report:

Job growth
The industry continued to add jobs – another 25,000 for the month. Over the past year, the industry has added more than 318,000 jobs, and the industry’s employment growth rate is at 2.7 percent, compared with the national employment growth rate of 1.8 percent.

Capital spending
The report found that 53 percent of operators said they had made a capital expenditure, such as a restaurant remodeling or purchase of new equipment, over the past three months, and 55 percent said they expect to make one over the next six months.

Regarding wholesale food inflation, that index is running at a 0.6 percent year-to-date basis. Among certain commodities, like beef, butter and bread, prices rose, while other items, such as eggs, citrus and pork, decreased. Here is the breakdown on those commodities price changes, year to date:

  • Fresh vegetables, up 28 percent
  • Beef, up 4 percent
  • Butter, up 3 percent
  • Bread, up 3 percent
  • Eggs, down 43 percent
  • Citrus, down 23 percent
  • Pork, down 7 percent

Overall inflation was at 1.7 percent, year to date through April, and menu prices ran at a 2.9 percent rate.