Why January Is the Best Month for Cheap Fast Food

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After the annual holiday spending binge, consumers tend to hunker down and save money by cooking more at home. Well aware of consumer tendencies, fast-food restaurants do their best to tempt diners into eating out more often by rolling out special post-holiday deals.

The phenomenon occurred last year, when, among other specials, Burger King offered two-for-one chicken sandwiches, and Papa John’s, Domino’s, and Pizza Hut unleashed cheap pizza deals.

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This year, as USA Today reports, is no different. Among the highlighted fast-food deals:

  • Taco Bell’s Beefy Crunch Burrito for 99¢ (available at that price for a limited time only)
  • Pizza Hut’s limited-time $10 for any pizza deal
  • A monster combo from Jack in the Box with a hamburger, two tacos, small fries, and a 20 oz. soft drink for $4.29
  • KFC specials of 50¢ sauceless hot wings and $11 weekend buckets (10 pieces of chicken), which usually sell for $14.99

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Meanwhile, the industry publication Nation’s Restaurant News points out that Steak ‘N Shake just launched the biggest marketing push of the new year, promising that it will not raise prices on any menu items through the course of 2012. NRN compares the move with Domino’s recent highly successful “Pizza Turnaround” campaign, when the chain admitted its pizza wasn’t up to snuff and promised to do better. And which, significantly, was also launched around the new year, according the NRN’s beat reporter:

I think Domino’s benefitted greatly from rolling out its campaign at the very end of 2009 and going with heavy advertising once the new year came. Getting credit as the first mover on something makes a difference.

Steak ‘N Shake, like its fast-food competitors, is also mindful of the need to attract budget-minded diners. Among its special promotions are four different meals for under $4 apiece.

Brad Tuttle is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @bradrtuttle. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.