Consumer expert Clark Howard’s column appears here each Thursday in conjunction with Deal Spotter, a weekly print section in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Feeling hungry? It’s going to be cheaper for you to get a sit-down lunch or dinner this summer thanks to a slowdown at some popular casual dining restaurants.
The restaurant business has really taken a U-turn back to 2008. At that time, sit-down restaurants had to do recession specials like two meals for $19.95.
Moving one step up the food chain, even the expense account restaurants beloved by business executives were having to discount. I recall one in particular doing $79 for two when the regular price had been $100 and another offering a complete meal for $39.95 instead of $75.
Now we’re back to those kinds of scenarios. The public has lost confidence in the direction of the country and the economy. And in May, the last month for which stats are available, people decided they weren’t going to eat out like they once did.
Darden is just one big operator that’s reporting bad sales numbers. The company owns Red Lobster, Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, The Capital Grille, Bahama Breeze and Seasons 52.
The CEO of Darden was on CNBC and said about the economy, “I think people are more fearful than hopeful.”
That’s a very accurate read of our country’s pulse in just a few words. You have businesses cutting back on spending, and the blazing-hot car market has cooled a little. At a time like this, eating out is a discretionary choice.
So you’ll start seeing the specials later this summer. The Orlando Sentinel reports the Olive Garden will be doing meals for two for $25. Red Lobster, meanwhile, will roll out a price point of $15 or less for a complete meal.
The concern about the economy means the deals will be there for you.
-by Clark Howard, Save More, Spend Less, Avoid Rip-offs
Find more answers to your consumer questions at ClarkHoward.com. Listen to his radio show live 1-3 p.m. Monday through Friday on WSB 750 AM and 95.5 FM.