The National Restaurant Association’s (NRA) comprehensive index of restaurant activity registered its first decline in five months in May. The Association’s Restaurant Performance Index (RPI)—a monthly composite index that tracks the health of and outlook for the U.S. restaurant industry—stood at 98.3 in May, down 0.3 percent from April and its 19th consecutive month below 100.

“With the performance of the current situation indicators holding relatively steady in May, the RPI’s decline was the result of restaurant operators’ dampened outlook for each of the four forward-looking indicators,” says Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of Research and Information Services for the Association. “Although restaurant operators remain relatively optimistic that economic conditions will improve in six months, their outlook for sales growth and capital spending activity softened somewhat.”

The RPI is based on the responses to the NRA’s Restaurant Industry Tracking Survey, which is fielded monthly among restaurant operators nationwide on a variety of indicators including sales, traffic, labor, and capital expenditures. The RPI consists of two components: the Current Situation Index and the Expectations Index.

The full report can be found online at the NRA’s Web site.