The cold start to spring has led to lower traffic at restaurants according to the National Restaurant Association.

Research by the NRA shows almost nine out of 10 restaurant operators saw weather conditions impact sales. While current conditions immediately affect restaurants, weather forecasts also influence consumer habits as they make dining plans. Research also found seven out of 10 say weather forecasts have an impact.

Warmer-than-normal temperatures improve restaurant traffic, but as temperatures cool, so does business.

“Since weather conditions do affect consumer behavior in the regions that have seen heightened wintery conditions this March, an impact on restaurant sales can be expected, especially when compared to the more positive conditions a year ago,” said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of research for the National Restaurant Association.

A separate release from the NRA shows traffic to restaurants helped lead the Restaurant Performance Index (RPI) lower in February, down 0.8 percent from a month earlier. An RPI below 100 reveals contraction in the index, the February RPI was 99.9.

Restaurateurs see the setbacks as only temporary and remain optimistic about the industry. Overall, they’re predicting better business in the months ahead, but are slightly less bullish compared to the previous month.