(UPDATED COVERAGE, Oct. 2) With same-store sales showing an increase for the 15th consecutive month, restaurant operators are increasingly optimistic about the economy, according to a monthly report from the National Restaurant Association.
Hudson Riehle, a senior vice president at NRA, said a year ago one in three restaurant operators said their No. 1 challenge was the economy. As of August this year that number had dropped to one in five, Riehle said in a report posted on the NRA’s website Sept. 28.
The association’s Restaurant Performance Index, which has a baseline of 100, logged the 10th consecutive month above 100, coming in at 100.6, according to an NRA news release. Any number greater than 100 signifies expansion of key industry indicators.
The monthly report included good news for the produce industry with 40% of restaurant operators expecting sales to increase in the coming six months, which means they will be buying more produce, said NRA’s director of nutrition and healthy living, Joy Dubost.
“Incorporating fresh fruits and vegetables into menu options is a great way to appeal to health conscience consumers,” Dubost said.
“According to our research, in 2012, 72% of adults say they are trying to eat healthier now at restaurants than they did two years ago.”
In addition to increases in same-store sales, a majority of restaurant operators reported a net increase in customer traffic for August, compared to a year ago.
Much of the traffic increase is related to rebounds in the travel and tourism sectors, Riehle said in the video. He said one of every $4 in the industry was from travel and tourism in August.
The survey also showed restaurateurs consider government to be an increasing challenge to their operations. In August 2011, 10% of restaurant operators saw government as their No. 1 challenge. That number doubled to 20% this August, but the survey did not ask respondents to specify how government was a challenge.