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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- After years of solid growth, restaurant sales are slowing down.
Taxes paid for meals served in Utah restaurants were flat for the second quarter, compared to the same period last year, rising by less than 1 percent. That's down from a 9 percent increase in the first quarter.
Statewide revenues totaled $8.07 million for the second quarter, compared with $8 million during the same period last year.
In Salt Lake County, revenues declined from $4 million to $3.8 million.
Andre Baksh, an economist with the Utah Tax Commission, called earlier increases phenomenal. He said it is unlikely that state wages could keep pace with rising fuel and food costs. "I had expected a decline, but I hadn't expected it would flatten out so quickly," he said.
Eleven other counties showing declines were: Beaver, Box Elder, Cache, Grand, Iron, Juab, Kane, Morgan, Sanpete, Summit and Tooele.
Thirteen of the 25 counties collecting revenues reported increases. Emery, Millard, Piute and San Juan counties do not collect restaurant taxes.
Baksh said the flat restaurant sales are a result of higher gas prices eating into family budgets.
On Friday, a gallon of unleaded, regular gasoline in Utah cost $4.14, compared with $4 a month ago and $3.09 from July of last year.
"People get put off by a sudden rise in prices," said Baksh. "It remains to be seen if this an overreaction or something more long-term."
Utah-based Arctic Circle said sales are slowing at its 28 company stores and 49 franchises in seven Western states. "Flat is good," said CEO Gary Roberts. "Others in the industry have said they'd be happy to have steady sales."
------ Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)