Spooked Consumers Deliver US Restaurants Three Straight Months Of Decline

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We’re living in the age of decline, so here is some more news that comes as no surprise. Spooked consumers have delivered to US restaurants a third straight month of declining sales. Knock me over with a feather.

February marks the first three-months of consecutive declines in restaurant sales in almost three yearsas Bloomberg reports consumers caught in “an emotional moment” spooked by higher payroll taxes, surging healthcare premia, and spiking energy costs. “February was pretty ugly” for many chains after January delivered an initial blow.”

Malcolm Knapp notes that “it’s important to keep in mind that companies also are facing unusually tough comparable sales because of favorable weather in 2012,” so the result is an industry that’s been “a lot softer so far this year.”

It will hardly be a surprise to ZH readers but it appears that gas prices are key as Knapp notes, “that one-week spike was a killer; it destroyed sales in the first week of February,” and has overall put “meaningful pressure on the discretionary purchasing power,” of restaurants’ (like Darden) customers.

“People are acting fearfully, or you could almost say rationally in a way,” because it’s not surprising they change their dining habits when they feel less confident as once again it’s the middle class that appears under pressureCasual dining is “definitely being squeezed” because “it’s not food on-the-go and it’s not high-end food for people trying to treat themselves.”

Read the whole thing. This shouldn’t surprise anyone. Food costs keep going up, while gas prices are also on the rise because we’re putting food in our freaking gas tanks. Our taxes have gone up, and nobody gets a raise anymore, at least nobody in the private sector. I guess stock market investors are doing okay thanks to QE Forever, as long as they’re not investing in restaurants. And of course DC is booming, seeing that’s where all the money is these days. This is the Obama economy, and he’s just getting started. But hey, maybe the dumb libs will succeed in raising the minimum wage to $22 per hour or more and they can just put all of the restaurants out of business once and for all. Then we won’t even have to talk about declining sales.