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Consumers cut back on restaurant spending

Even as the economy appears to be chugging slowly toward a modest recovery, a majority of Americans say they are planning to rein in spending on dining out occasions over the next six months, a new Harris Poll said Tuesday.

The survey, which polled 2,499 adults in November, found that 61 percent of respondents said they are likely to decrease their spending at restaurants.

While that figure remains fairly high, it marks an improvement over a Harris Poll conducted about this time in 2010 when 66 percent of those surveyed said they intended to reduce spending when dining out.

Meanwhile, 58 percent of respondents said they expected to trim spending on entertainment — also a marginal improvement over the 62 percent who reported similarly in the fall of 2010.

In addition, 51 percent of those polled said they plan to save or invest more over the next six months, which is slightly down from the 52 percent of respondents who reported likewise last year.

Those figures do not mark a significant change from 2008, when 49 percent said they would probably save or invest more money.

“The Harris Poll has been tracking Americans’ spending and savings plans for over three years, and on the whole has not seen a tremendous amount of change,” Harris Poll officials said in a statement.

“As the economy fluctuates and Americans continue to feel pessimistic about employment prospects, it only follows that nonessential spending would continue to be scrutinized.”

Contact Paul Frumkin at [email protected].

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