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Consumers Outline Restaurant Spending Plans for 2011

Although the business climate seems to be improving, relief appears to be a ways off for foodservice operators.

Some 24 percent of restaurant-goers plan to spend less at restaurants than they did a year ago, according to data released by market research firm Mintel.

The news is not all bad, though. For example, 10 percent of restaurant-goers say they plan to spend more at restaurants in 2011, and consumers with the highest household incomes are most likely to make this claim.

Still, of restaurant-goers who plan to spend more when they eat out, the most popular destination is a casual dining restaurant, with 67 percent reporting as much. This represents a positive turn of events for the casual dining sector, since previous Mintel research found that 31 percent of diners who visited casual restaurants in 2010 were spending less than they did in 2009.

Price may be a major deterrent to increasing restaurant spending, with 63 percent of restaurant-goers saying it's too expensive to eat out regularly. Though not everyone is cutting back; some plan to stick with the status quo. Of those surveyed, who have visited a restaurant in the past month, 66 percent say they plan to spend the same amount when dining out this year as they did last year.