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Consumer Briefing

More plan to eat at restaurants but spend less there

December 13, 2009

More plan to eat out while spending less

U.S. consumers plan to eat out more but spend less at restaurants in the next 12 months, according to a recent survey.

The percentage of people planning to dine out at least weekly during the next year rose to 63% from 52% in a March poll, according to the survey by restructuring company AlixPartners.

Respondents said they planned to spend an average of $11.49 on restaurant meals, down almost 20% from the March poll's findings.

Fine-dining restaurants have been hit the hardest as diners move to less expensive restaurants, fast-food chains and even convenience-store foods, said Adam Werner, a director in the firm's food service practice. Southfield, Mich.-based AlixPartners surveyed 1,000 consumers for the study.

TRAVEL

Go green, take the bus or train

If you want to be green this holiday, take the bus or train, but if you must fly, stick with economy seating, the Union of Concerned Scientists says.

Airlines that have no first-class or economy-plus seats lower a plane's per-person carbon-dioxide emissions 10% to 15% because they're seating more passengers on each flight, the group's researchers found.

If you're traveling alone or with one other person for trips of more than 500 miles, flying direct in coach is a better option than driving the average car in terms of per-person carbon emissions.

Compared with flying coach, a couple traveling on a bus will cut their trip's carbon dioxide emissions 55% to 75%, depending on the distance.

Trains are the greenest option, emitting 60% less carbon dioxide per passenger-mile than a typical car with a single occupant, and 30% less than a 500-mile trip on a small plane.

RETAIL

Coke to return to Costco shelves

Coca-Cola Co. products will soon be available again in Costco stores now that a pricing dispute with the wholesale club operator has been settled.

Coke will be back on shelves around Monday, Costco Wholesale Corp.'s chief financial officer, Richard Galanti, told investors during the company's earnings conference call Thursday.

Last month Costco decided not to order any more Coke products until the conflict was resolved. The retailer made the dispute unusually public, posting messages in stores and online telling shoppers its reasons. But now things have been worked out, Galanti said.

"Our signs basically said it all -- until we can provide our members with these products at competitive prices and provide our members with value, we are not prepared to sell it," he said. "And we are now going to sell it."

RECALL

Baby beds pose suffocation risk

About 24,000 Amby Baby Motion Beds are being recalled after two infant deaths. The hammock-like beds are marketed to parents of fussy babies with colic or reflux.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission says the side-to-side shifting or tilting of the hammock can cause an infant to roll and become trapped or wedged against the hammock's fabric or mattress pad, posing a suffocation risk.

Two infants suffocated in their hammocks this summer.

The bed, made by Amby Baby USA of Minneapolis, has a label sewn onto the hammock that says, "Amby -- Babies Love It, Naturally."

The beds were sold online, through Ambybaby.com and other Internet retailers dating back to 2003.

For more information: call (866) 544-9721 or visit www.ambybaby.com

-- times wire reports

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