Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Shift FROM thrift? Are diners trading up?


olivegardenAfter a much heralded “shift to thrift” during what has become the longest and deepest recession since the Great Depression, diners are now saying they plan to spend less money at cheap fast-food chains and more at some pricier eateries like Darden‘s Red Lobster and Olive Garden chains, Chipotle and Maggiano’s Little Italy from Brinker

“Trading up is supported by fewer customers saying they’re ordering less expensive items, skipping beverages and choosing less expensive restaurants,” RBC Capital Markets analyst Larry Miller wrote in a client note. Miller regularly polls diners about their spending plans. 

“Confidence in the economy is improving and those planning to spend more at restaurants cited better job security and less need to save money,” said Miller, who added that consumer spending plans at Starbucks were also ”less bad.”

Are you trading up on food — or anything else — after trading down?