Americans eat out when they’re feeling good about things. That’s why a recent slowdown in restaurant sales is alarming some.
In the past few weeks, McDonald’s (MCD), Taco Bell owner Yum! Brands (YUM) and Starbucks (SBUX) have all described a new wave of caution that has crept up among customers, keeping them from splurging on meals out.
The precise cause of the shift is not clear, with some blaming rising prices and slowing job growth, and others suggesting security fears or even the 2016 election are playing a role.
No matter the catalyst, the deceleration is pronounced enough for Stifel Nicolaus to warn of a looming “restaurant recession” that may represent a “harbinger” to a widespread U.S. recession in 2017.