Higher gas prices and persistent unemployment may threaten a sustained sales recovery this year, but guest traffic trends from late 2010 offered encouraging signs, The NPD Group said Wednesday. Traffic patterns started looking up for the restaurant industry in the second half of 2010, NPD found, as visit declines narrowed in several segments to produce flat traffic for the fourth quarter, compared with a 3-percent decline in restaurant visits for the fourth quarter of 2009. While midscale ...

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