LAS CRUCES — Americans are shouting out — figuratively — "I'm tired of the economy and I am tired of being frugal."
A recent report shows that sales at restaurants are at an all-time high.
Sales at eateries in April reached $45.9 billion, a $200 million jump (seasonally adjusted) from the previous high in December, according to preliminary figures from the U.S. Census Bureau reported recently in USA Today.
That amounts to a big turnaround from the first quarter of the year, when, National Restaurant Association's Chief Economist Bruce Grindy recently reported, the impact of the payroll tax hike played a roll in dropping spending.
"These new survey results suggest that once consumers are feeling more confident about their personal financial situation, they will be primed to burn off some of their accumulated pent-up demand for restaurants," Grindy said.
Vince Vaccaro owns Lorenzo's Pan Am on University Avenue. He said he has started to see the same trend here in Las Cruces, but just barely.
"It's just starting," Vaccaro said.
He hopes the momentum can continue through the summer, but that is an unknown.
"What happens is you're going into graduation and Mother's Day and looking good," he said, "then you hit this six to seven weeks where you don't know what's going to happen."
Antonio Nuñez, owner of Los Mariachis on Motel Boulevard, said he thinks business will continue to improve into the summer. Last year he moved his restaurant to its current location.
"We are doing much better (here) than in the other one," he said.
Las Cruces-area customers themselves said they are still being frugal.
"I almost always order water, (it's) too hard to pay $3 for a soda," said Natasha Fountain on the Sun-News Facebook page. "I also love the dollar menus too."
Braden Tidwell said he'll drink water with lemon in it and he also looks for deals.
"We often look for ways to save in finding a deal for a meal outside of home," he said, "either it be a BOGO offer through the newspaper, online or radio."
Derrick Tea, though, has a different take.
"If I'm going to eat at a restaurant, I'm sure not going to be frugal," he said. "If one is having money problems, then they shouldn't be eating out."
Brook Stockberger may be reached at 575-541-5457; follow him on Twitter @Bstockberger.