Is Optimism Ready To Return? Check Out The Restaurants

Although surveys indicate that consumers are growing gloomier, economist Gregory Gieber of Smith Barney, Harris Upham & Co. points to one indicator that suggests that confidence is bottoming out: retail sales of drinking and eating establishments. "Dining out," he says, "is the most highly discretionary action of all consumer purchases and the one that is most easily and quickly adjusted when people become concerned about economic security."

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