Quick-service restaurants saw some improvement in the last quarter of 2009 which may signal a coming improvement for the economy.

A return to QSRs is a sign of improvement as well as consumers "trading down" to a less expensive dining experience, says Bob O'Brien, senior vice president of global foodservice at NPD Group, according to Meatingplace.com.

Quick-service restaurants historically lead the foodservice industry out of economic downturns, says O’Brien.

However, CKE Restaurants, operator of the Carl's Jr. and Hardee's chains, announced that same-store sales for company-operated stores for the period ended March 22 actually declined. CKE Restaurants is based in Carpinteria, Calif.

Same-store sales at Carl's Jr. fell 7.6 percent, while same-store sales at Hardee's increased 0.5 percent, compared with a 3.1 percent increase in the year-ago period.

"The same-store sales trend improved considerably at Hardee's as weather in the current year normalized and as the brand continued to promote the popular Grilled Cheese Bacon Thickburger," said CKE chief executive officer Andy Puzder, in a news release.

"However, Carl's Jr. same-store sales continued to be negatively impacted by the poor economic conditions and high unemployment rates in our core California market."

Source: Meatingplace.com