Restaurant economist outlooks on consumer spending and the casual dining segment all seem weak according to these recent stories. If your food and beverage operation is feeling the pinch, this may be why: New Low for Consumer Confidence! If the political wrangling over our debt issues has put everything on temporary hold in terms of your food service business expansion, read what this article and subsequent report says about consumer confidence. Here is an excerpt along with the full story link: “U.S. consumer confidence has fallen further after weeks of intensified economic concerns and broad stock market declines, and Conference Board data due later this month could be even weaker than current projections suggest, Consumer Edge Research said on Monday.” Owners, investors and their restaurant economist should read the full story here. Is Casual Dining Cannibalizing Itself? If you are an owner or investor looking to expand operations or launch a new concept, the casual dining sector may need a closer look: “The Latest on Casual Dining Casual dining has been the darling of the franchised food service industry for decades. But the slowdown in same store sales in recent months raises some interesting questions. Does the price of gas really affect the dining habits of consumers? Does it matter if mortgage rates go up? Or are consumers getting bored with the same old fare? In this issue we talk to Ron Paul of Technomic, Inc. and Ron Parikh of Genghis Grill to get their thoughts on why some casual restaurants are hot while others are not.” Read more on what these restaurant management consultants say are the real reasons for the decline. Need other help for your restaurant? Consult our newsletters with ideas from our food service consultant group. Are you experiencing a similar decline in foodservice customers like what is talked about in this blog? What can you share from a restaurant economist perspective that would be helpful for our readers?