Building on modest year-end growth, restaurant sales should continue to rise through February, according to Kurt Salmon’s proprietary analysis.

While overall confidence is flat to down slightly, restaurant spending and intent to spend are up. This suggests consumers are returning to restaurants for convenience, not optimism in the economy,” said Todd Hooper, retail and restaurant industry strategist. “The real test comes in the next month or two, to see if consumers can sustain an upward trend in their intent to spend at restaurants. Before we can claim recovery, we would expect to see intent to spend surpass the levels we saw in late summer.”

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3 January 2011