Diners eating out more, but spending less on each meal, survey finds

diners spend more going out, but less on each meal...
diners spend more going out, but less on each meal...

Here's some mixed news for the restaurant industry.

According to a March survey conducted by AlixPartners, a global business advisory firm, dining out frequency has increased among U.S. consumers. The not so good news -- diners are spending less on each meal, avoiding buying breakfast, and many are shopping for coupons and cheaper options such as shelf food from convenience stores.

The survey found that consumers expect to spend about $11.60 per meal at restaurants over the coming year. That's down 21% from $14.70 per meal diners spent in pre-recession 2008, and down about 4% from the $12.10 in average meal price consumers say they spent in 2009.

The news could be troublesome for the restaurant industry , which has been hit hard by the anorexic economy. Rising food costs, liquidity issues due to recession-ravaged company balance sheets and a level of consumer frugality that still has not abated threaten the industry's fledgling recovery, AlixPartners LLP said in a release.