Consumer intent to spend, which suggests softness in the months ahead, is proving again to be a good indicator of actual spending, according to Kurt Salmon’s proprietary analysis.

“Over the past few months, we’ve tried to interpret an apparent disconnect between consumer intent to spend and actual spending,” said Todd Hooper, retail and restaurant industry strategist. “Government data previously showed restaurant spending climbing steadily. The government’s latest revision of the data, however, now shows spending indeed leveled off at year-end and evidently dropped in January, which is more in line with consumer intentions for that period.”

“The revised spending levels are disappointing, but they make sense,” Hooper said. “We expect restaurant sales will continue to trend up over 2011, but the path may be uneven as we believe intent to spend may fall again next month.”

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2 March 2011