The restaurant industry continued to grapple with economic challenges in June, as the National Restaurant Association's index of restaurant activity declined yet again. The NRA's Restaurant Performance Index (RPI)--a monthly composite index that tracks the health of and outlook for the U.S. restaurant industry based on indicators such as sales, traffic, labor and capital expenditures--fell 0.5 percent from May to 97.8 in June. This is the 20th straight month the RPI has stood below 100. Index values above 100 indicate that key industry indicators are in a period of expansion, while index values below 100 represent a period of contraction for key industry indicators.

"While there are signs that suggest an improvement may be on the horizon, the latest figures indicate that the restaurant industry’s recovery has yet to gain a firm foothold,” said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of research and information services for the NRA, in a press statement.

June was the 13th consecutive month of sales declines for restaurant operators. Only 22 percent of restaurant operators reported a sales gain between June 2008 and June 2009, down from 26 percent who reported a sales gain in May. Sixty-one percent of operators reported a same-store sales decline in June, up slightly from 60 who reported negative sales in May.

In addition, 19 percent of restaurant operators reported an increase in customer traffic between June 2008 and June 2009, down from 22 percent who reported similarly in May. Sixty percent of operators reported a traffic decline in June, compared to 59 percent reporting lower traffic in May.

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