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Earlier this week, PFCB’s Co-CEO Bert Vivian said that investors should not be surprised by comparable store sales results like the one reported by RUTH. On Monday, RUTH reported that its 4Q08 same-store sales declined 18.5%. Today, we learned that there is truth to Bert’s comment because RUTH just reported that the entire upscale steak segment experienced a 17.4% same-store sales decline in the fourth quarter, as measured by Knapp Track data. This significant 4Q decline compares to a 5.7% decline in 1Q08, a 6.0% decline in 2Q and a 7.9% decline in 3Q. Specifically, RUTH said that California’s results were in line with the system average but that Florida continued to underperform. We will have to wait to see if Bert’s comments about 1Q will hold true as well… “During the fourth quarter, particularly in December, people had a reason to go out shopping. When people are out, they occasionally also go out to eat. We see no reason for people to go out in 1Q. It is going to be a cold 1Q in retail and restaurants. There is nothing to change people’s behaviors in the next few months.” Please refer to my January 13 post titled “PFCB - New Co-CEO Provides a Dire Outlook for Casual Dining” for more of Bert Vivian’s colorful commentary on business trends.