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Restaurants Offer Escape from Economic Woes

From Sarah Lockyer of Nation's Restaurant News: "Despite all of the stormy speculation surrounding the U.S. economy in general and the restaurant industry in particular, some silver linings are making their way through the clouds. Consumers, the lifeblood of both the macro economy and the restaurant industry, are likely to begin seeking an escape from the mounds of negative data, including the record-low confidence ratings, sky-high unemployment figures, and declining stock market and home values, according to one restaurant analyst. "At some point it seems battle fatigue sets in and, as a protective conditioned response, consumers look for an escape," said Bob Derrington, a securities analyst at Morgan Keegan & Co. "They look for comfort. They seek out some refuge in the storm of daily living. Restaurant dining can provide that escape." Comparing restaurants with other consumer sectors, like auto manufacturers or retail chains, Derrington said in a Monday note to clients that restaurants will hold up better than most because the industry fulfils such basic needs as eating and socializing. "The good news for the restaurant industry is that consumers typically get hungry about every four to five hours, generally three times a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year," he said. "While consumers‚ budgetary constraints have forced some to make do with less, it's the systemic underlying demand that the restaurant industry serves which has and, we believe, will keep the industry's chains active, [relatively] vibrant and ultimately profitable. 
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