Softer sales and traffic, along with a dampened outlook for sales growth, pressured the National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Performance Index for the first time in three months, said an NRA release.
The index is a monthly composite tracking the health of and outlook for the US restaurant industry. The health of the restaurant industry is measured in relation to a level of 100. Index values above 100 indicate expansion while values below 100 represent contraction.
The index stood at 100.6 in July, down from 101.0 in June. July’s dip was because of declines in both the current situation and expectations indices.
The Current Situation Index, which measures same-store sales, traffic, labor and capital expenditures, stood at 100.4 in July, down 0.3 from 100.8 in June. Despite the decline, July represented the third straight month with a reading above 100, signifying expansion.
The Expectations Index, which measures restauranteurs’ six-month outlook for same-store sales, employees, capital expenditures and business conditions, stood at 100.8 in July, down 0.5 from 101.3 in June. July represented the fourth decline in the last five months, which dropped the Expectations Index to its lowest level in 10 months.
MIXED JULY SAME-STORE SALES AND TRAFFIC
Restauranteurs reported mixed trends in same-store sales and customer traffic in July, with 46% reporting a year-over-year increase and 42% reporting lower sales. This was the second straight month of positive same-store sales.
In June, 54% of operators reported higher sales and 34% reporting a sales decline.
In contrast, there was a net decline in customer traffic for the fourth straight month. Thirty-seven percent reported a year-over-year increase, while 48% reported a decline.
Results were mixed in June, with 39% reporting higher customer traffic and 42% reporting a decline.
Despite the mixed sales and traffic in recent months, capital spending remained generally positive, with 62% reporting expenditures for equipment, expansion or remodeling during the last three months, a level that has held about steady for the last six months.
LESS OPTIMISM ABOUT SALES GROWTH
Restauranteurs were somewhat less optimistic about sales growth. Thirty-two percent expected higher sales in six months (compared to the same period in the previous year), down from 42% last month and the lowest since December 2016.
Sixteen percent expected sales volume in six months to be lower than the same period in the previous year, while 52% thought sales would remain about steady. In comparison, they have a mixed outlook for the economy.
Twenty-eight percent said they expected economic conditions to improve in six months, up from 16% last month and the highest since March. However, 20% thought economic conditions would worsen, the highest level since October 2016.
CATTLE, BEEF RECAP
Cattle traded last Wednesday on the livestock exchange video auction at $105.10 per cwt on a live basis for 1- to 9-day delivery and at $105 live and $166 dressed for 1- to 17-day delivery.
Cash trading was reported last week at $104 to mostly $105 per cwt on a live basis, down $2 from the previous week. Cattle traded in Nebraska’s dressed market at mostly $165 up to $166, down $7.
The USDA’s choice cutout Tuesday was up $1.10 per cwt at $192.45, while select was off $0.18 at $190.47. The choice/select spread widened to $1.98 from $0.70 with 103 loads of fabricated product sold into the spot market.
The CME Feeder Cattle index for the seven days ended Monday was $145.27 per cwt, up $1.00. This compares with Tuesday’s Sep settlement of $142.05, down $0.67.