The $5.94/$41.76 Difference
According to NPD, US restaurant spending only went up a tick (.4%) in Q2 2010 with the average check being $5.94. Nowhere do they specify fast food, but otherwise I'm having a hard time seeing how such a low figure could be true. Or maybe I'm just a big spender. China had the smallest check at $2.58, and the biggest increase in spending (15.6%). Just wait until those Hong Kong McDonald's weddings sweep the mainland.
Kurt Salmon also finds that restaurant spending is down this fall, but doesn't say by how much.
Zagat clearly tracks a more affluent user. Their 2011 New York City Restaurant Survey shows that in NYC, the average check is $41.76, down a mere five cents from 2009. For the record, a whopping 81% think it's fine to take photos of food in restaurants…so there.