Nate Silver spotted a new Gallup poll that shows a significant decline in eating out among middle class Americans.
Personally, the first thing to go when the economy serious collapsed was restaurant dining. A year or two ago, I ate out maybe three times a week (all local or privately-owned places whenever possible). Earlier this year, though, we cut back to once-a-week. And since September or so, it’s been literally zero. I think we’ve been to a diner once or twice since then, but nothing else.
Most striking, though, is an apparent increase in dining out among Americans earning less than $20K. This is probably fast food.
While restaurant sales declined, McDonald’s November sales were up 7.7 percent worldwide — 4.5 percent in the U.S. — and McDonald’s was one of only two stocks in the DJIA to show an increase in 2008. McDonald’s and the others are spending more on advertising (but I doubt they’re spending more on healthier menu items). And the spazzy white guys in lower Manhattan (SWGILM) are recommending fast food stocks.
Lower-income families need sources of inexpensive food and the fast food places provide it. Whole foods stores, unfortunately, do not. But one thing’s for certain — the economic meltdown is going to make Americans even sicker and more obese than they are today.