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CHICAGO — Rising unemployment, eroding consumer confidence, market volatility and other economic concerns will take a toll on the restaurant industry in 2009, according to a new report from market research company The NPD Group. Total restaurant industry traffic was down 1 percent at the end of 2008, and NPD forecasts in its new report that 2009 will be an even tougher year for restaurants.
 
The new report, "Challenging Times…Driving Sales in 2009," dives into what happened to the restaurant industry last year, and how previous industry downturns can help improve sales in 2009. Additionally, the report provides a sales and traffic forecast for 2009 by industry segment, and offers considerations for restaurant operators on how to survive and adapt to the challenges.
 
"Our industry began 2008 battling rising prices, especially for food and fuel, and slowing customer traffic counts, which resulted in extreme pressure on margins throughout the foodservice industry," said Bonnie Riggs, restaurant industry analyst and author of the report. "Now we face a much tougher marketplace, much greater uncertainty, and a very tight hold on our pocketbooks. Much of the challenge for operators this year will be having a good understanding of what their customers want."

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