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Yahoo! Food reports that "by a nose, American dollars spent at restaurants and bars outstripped those plunked down in grocery stores in January, a first since the Census Bureau began tracking data in 1992 ... More than two decades ago, Americans spent $162 in groceries for every $100 they spent in restaurants. But this past January, they spent nearly equal amounts of money in both places: $50.475 billion in restaurants and bars, and $50.466 billion in grocery stores."

“I think it’s a combination of a recovering economy and changing eating habits,” says Mark J. Perry, a University of Michigan economics and finance professor, suggesting that lower gas prices have helped provide people with disposable income with which to eat out. Plus, he says, "The role of the restaurant has changed in society. It’s less of a special occasion [destination], and even for some people, like me, eating out is an everyday occasion."
KC's View:
This speaks to a lot of things ... in part, the rebounding economy, but also the inability of a lot of people to cook, the lack of time to actually prepare a meal, and the degree to which at least some restaurants seem to have successfully adopted the "third place" strategy that has helped drive the growth of companies like Starbucks in recent years. And, I think it points to a major challenge facing many American supermarkets ... because if restaurants are growing their share of stomach, somebody has to be losing.