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Consumer Trends

Rich folks taking a bigger bite out of fast food

Even as the economy continues its slow recovery, wealthy Americans are gravitating toward fast-food restaurants. According to a new American Express study, the “ultra-affluent”—those defined as consumers who charge $7000 or more a month on their credit cards—are slowly increasing their spending on luxury items while trying to remain frugal in other areas, such as eating out. Although still struggling through the recession, quickservice restaurants have generally fared better than mid-price and fine-dining establishments.

  • The wealthy increased spending on fast food by 24% in the second quarter of 2010 over the same time period in 2009, compared with only 8% by average consumers
  • Fine-dining spending increased by 12% and casual dining by 7% for the wealthy
  • Average consumer spending increased 3% for fine dining but decreased 2% for casual dining
  • Overall, fast-food chain visits fell 2%, mid-price restaurants dropped 3% and fine-dining establishments decreased by 8% during the last year
  • The ultra-affluent increased spending on business-class plane tickets by 114%, while also increasing spending on cruises, car rentals and luxury hotels

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