Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Hold the pickle, hold the lettuce...

While much of the financial news is bad, and often dire, particularly when it comes to consumers and spending, Americans are still getting their jones on for fast food, at least the McDonald's variety.

McDonald's Corp. reported an 8.2% increase in October global same-store sales, with a 5.3% gain in the U.S., which the company credited to new menu items such as southern-style chicken and its Monopoly game promotion.

This is big news for the fast food giant, as high gasoline and food costs, as well as slumping home sales and the credit market meltdown have seen the restaurant sector post a flurry of bad economic news.

The recent report follows a less than stellar one in March, when McDonald's reported same-store sales in the U.S. fell for the first time in five years, in part due to Easter falling during the month. Since then, however, the company has posted solid increases since then.

Staying with the burger theme, Burger King also posted a positive quarterly earnings.

Since this post is about hamburgers, I had my first Red Robin burger yesterday, in Augusta.

I had their gourmet cheeseburger, loaded, with Monterrey Jack cheese, and it was a winner. While my budget of late is more McDonalds than Red Robin, you can't really compare the two burgers by taste. The chain's crispy, bottomless steak fries are a nice touch, also.

Whether it’s choosing McDonald’s over the latest local flavor of the month restaurant, or trading in the SUV for a Chevrolet Aveo (with options like hand-crank windows vs. power everything), self-denial seems to be hot (haute?) again.

A recent column in the WSJ had columnist Christina Brinkley touting the joys of going without. Apparently even on Rodeo Drive, conspicuous consumption isn't what it used to be, at least according to sales clerk Michael Kors who told Brinkley that “there’s an umbrella of guilt over everyone.”

While consumers are toning down their purchases of high-end shoes, and organic produce, they're apparently turning to Karl Marx for comfort, at least according to this report.

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