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August 28, 2021

Has there ever been a better time to eat at a restaurant?

There are two philosophies on consumerism during a recession.

The first is, Good God, save your money and hide … we’re all going to die! The other is, Hey, this might not be bad time to sneak out a deal or two.

About five months ago we wondered if, with dealers offering to damn near paint your house to get a vehicle off the lot, now might not be the best opportunity to buy a car.

The feedback majority? Yeah, absolutely … if you have the cash. But in all reality, few of us had the nest egg sitting around to – no matter how great the deal – pay for a car when the economy’s seized us tighter than Nicole Kidman’s face.

But with sales having a tough go in near every industry, maybe no other opening to save out there has as much upside as the perks you can find eating now at many restaurants.

According to our friends over at MSN Money, eateries are doing everything short of doling out Happy Endings these days in a bid to massage customers through their doors.

Restaurants have teamed with entertainment companies, movie theatres and a whole roster of promotional enterprises to – much like the thrifty dinner and a movie deal offered at chains like Kelseys and East Side Marios – give diners the enticement to come out and eat.

“I can’t ever recall these kinds of incentives to get traffic through the door,” Bonnie Riggs, and analyst for NPD Group and a 28-year vet of the restaurant industry, tells MSN.

Indeed, there hasn’t been a time since Reagan was president where more perks have been thrown at restaurant-goers.

Aside from the aforementioned dinner and a movie deals, you can now get $5 concert tickets from Subway and places like McDonalds are always primed for a giveaway, like their wildly successful free coffee promo back in April.

At any rate, no matter where you stand on eating out, now appears to be the time to save in doing so.

And as the $556 billion restaurant industry struggles for a variety of reasons (like, say, the humbling of that grab-and-go breakfast/lunch working crowd as a result of high unemployment rates), the good times for diners may just stick around a while longer.

By Jason Buckland, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...