Two recent surveys forecast a slightly sunnier picture for the year ahead among both consumers and franchise business leaders, providing a glimpse of clearer skies for the restaurant industry. Last week, a key consumer barometer, The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index, showed its second straight gain in two months, with the consumer outlook for the months ahead reaching a two-year high. The Conference Board, a New York-based research group, said the index rose in December to ...

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