By Christina Cheddar Berk, News Editor at CNBC.com
NEW YORK ( CNBC) -- Darden Restaurants ( DRI) cut its fiscal 2012 earnings and sales forecast Tuesday, hurt as deep discounts at its Olive Garden chain failed to bring in new guests. But Darden, which also operates Red Lobster and LongHorn Steakhouse, isn't the only restaurant suffering these days. It's been a rough year all around for restaurant operators, with consumers eating out less often. Market researcher NPD Group said Tuesday it doesn't expects 2012 will be much better. NPD issued its forecast for next year and said it expects the number of diners going to restaurants to be flat in the first half of 2012, but to end the year with visits up by 1%. That's pretty much the opposite of what happened in 2011. This year, the industry started off hopeful after ending 2010 with two consecutive quarters of 1% traffic increases, but the vision did not materialize.
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