by Max Brantley
Here's one beneficiary of hard economic times -- the people who make paper sacks. There's been a boom in people taking lunches to work, rather than heading out to a restaurant. Interesting feature in the Wall Street Journal.
Popular lunch-hour restaurants say increases in both wholesale food prices and vendors' fuel surcharges are putting a squeeze on their profits. Indeed, the consumer-price index for all food has risen 5.1% since May 2007 and is expected to rise even further. Then, after price jumps, come the cutbacks from consumers, which further hurt restaurants. According to a Zogby International survey of 755 people conducted in May for Marlin Co., a workplace communication firm, nearly half of employees surveyed had reduced their food purchases.
As a result, restaurateurs cite a decrease in lunchtime traffic -- and say existing customers now gravitate toward lower-price items on the menu.
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