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Consumer Confidential: A brewski for Burger King; economic gloom is growing

July 1, 2011 |  8:05 am

Here's your frankly-my-dear Friday roundup of consumer news from around the Web:

--How about a beer with your burger? Some fast-food chains are experimenting with alcohol sales as a way to boost business. Two Sonic restaurants in South Florida soon will sell beer and wine. The move follows Burger King "Whopper Bars" -- recently opened in Miami, Las Vegas and Kansas City -- that sell beer. Starbucks recently began serving beer and wine in a handful of Seattle stores. This may get the cash flowing in, but critics say the message to younger consumers is that it's OK to drink. I'll know that we've gone too far when Mickey D's starts selling McBrewskis alongside its Happy Meals.

--On the other hand, maybe we'll all need a drink if the economy doesn't get any better. Consumer sentiment worsened in June amid continuing anxiety over high unemployment and high prices for everyday goods. Falling gasoline prices stabilized consumers' view of their current economic conditions, but expectations remained gloomy, the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan survey shows. Although small spending gains can be expected in the second half of the year, the trend is more likely to vary between lackluster and zero than lackluster and robust over the next several years, the survey says. To which I say, "Supersize me."

-- David Lazarus