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Frozen consumer spending shows first cracks of a thaw, NRA says

Although consumers are still reluctant to spend because of doubts about their economic security, encouraging signs are emerging for restaurateurs, according to research released by the National Restaurant Association.

Thirty-four percent of consumers surveyed for the association said they expect their economic situations to improve in 2015. About 40 percent said they would like to patronize restaurants more often in the coming year.

“It’s clear that American consumers haven’t abandoned restaurants, but rather are choosing their visits more carefully until their financial situation improves,” said Bruce Grindy, chief economist for the NRA.

Still, the research affirmed that the industry’s traffic and sales problems have yet to ease. Seventy percent of respondents said they were “significantly” or “somewhat” disposed to forego spending. Grindy noted that even households with annual incomes exceeding $100,000 are being tightfisted, a holdover from the Great Recession.

Four in 10 consumers said they worry about meeting household expenses and saving for retirement. 

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