Restaurant data on the mend in March, survey says

New data released last week by the National Restaurant Association has shown that restaurant sales figures and traffic levels showed annual increases during the month of March.

The NRA’s Restaurant Performance Index for March increased by 1.4 percent to hit 100.5 when compared to previous month’s figures. The increase pushed the index over 100 for the first time in 29 months, while also hitting its highest rate since September 2007.

“Restaurant operators reported net gains in both same-store sales and customer traffic in March, the first time in 31 months that both indicators stood in positive territory,” said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of the Research and Knowledge Group for the NRA. “In addition, restaurant operators are increasingly optimistic about growth in sales and staffing levels in the months ahead, while their outlook for the economy soared to its strongest level in five years.”

The positive increase in customer traffic was also the first one seen by the NRA in 22 months, with 43 percent of owners reporting annual gains in March.