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Casual dining comparable sales fell 8.9% in December with traffic down 9.9%, making it the worst month of the year. These numbers are particularly discouraging because people had reason to go out in December as they did their holiday shopping, which typically translates into increased dining out. Looking forward, it would seem that people have less reason to go out in January. Brinker stated on its fiscal 2Q09 earnings call this morning that after a weak start to January, however, that it has seen its own sales trends improve and “start to firm up” in the last two weeks. Although two weeks do not make a trend, on the margin, Brinker’s seeing some recent stabilization is a positive as it relates to the deteriorating casual dining results in December.