Reuters: The National Restaurant Association has said that U.S. restaurants are enduring their toughest time in 17 years as tight credit and falling home prices compel consumers to eat out less or spend less when they do.
"This is the most challenging environment for restaurant operators since 1991,"  said Hudson Riehle, NRA chief economist. "Depending on how consumer spending proceeds in the fourth quarter, it could be the most challenging environment since the early 1980s."
 
So far in 2008, consumers are still spending about half of their food budget at restaurants; however, it appears that spending has been at lower-cost restaurants.

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