So much for people using their tax refund checks for a few splurges at fast casual restaurant Chipotle (CMG) - Get Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. Report in the first quarter. 

Same-store sales for the restaurant industry fell 1.6% in the first quarter, marking the fifth consecutive quarter of negative results, according to industry research firm Black Box Intelligence. The last time the industry experienced a similar ugly period was in 2009 and the first half of 2010 as the economy was in the grips of the Great Recession.

Restaurant traffic plunged 3.6% in the quarter, says Black Box Intelligence, with the average check up 1.9%. The increase in check is of little comfort: it's slower than the average 2.3% increase seen in 2016 as brands relied more on promotions and took smaller price increases in response to sluggish traffic.

The worst performing segments in the quarter included sit-down dining and fast casual. On the other hand, fine dining and quick-service restaurants performed the best (good news for those McDonald's (MCD) - Get McDonald's Corporation (MCD) Report bulls out there).

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Conditions didn't improve in March, either.  

Black Box Intelligence says same-store sales last month dropped 1.1%, with traffic falling 3.4%. 

The firm's data is based on 120 plus restaurant brands and over 22,000 units that are clients.

Editor's Pick: Originally published April 19.

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