Mall Restaurants Foresee Bleak Christmas

With sales down at local malls and retail centers and projected at record lows for the holiday season as households curtail spending, restaurants that rely on retail traffic are preparing for losses.
November 22, 2008, 9am PST | Tim Halbur
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"Among those are California Pizza Kitchen Inc., which has about 89% of its 251 restaurants in or near retail centers and malls, and Cheesecake Factory Inc., with two-thirds of its stores in or near shopping centers. Most Red Robin Gourmet Burgers Inc. restaurants are also tied to retail centers, while Kona Grill Inc.'s 20 restaurants are also primarily within shopping centers. P.F. Chang's China Bistro Inc. and Ruby Tuesday Inc. are also exposed to downturns in retail traffic, analysts say.

"These aren't necessarily brands you make a reservation to," Oppenheimer & Co. restaurant analyst Matthew DiFrisco said. "They live off the flow of traffic going to lifestyle centers and malls, and are trying to intercept you while you're out shopping."

The economic and consumer spending slump are already wreaking havoc on restaurant sales as fewer diners go out to eat and spend less when they do. The holiday season will likely continue the downward trend as retail traffic is expected to stay down over prior-year numbers."

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Published on Wednesday, November 19, 2008 in Wall St. Journal
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