Greg would like to thank Jeanne G. Harris and Eric M. Lowitt for their contributions to this month’s column.

Retailers are facing an increasingly hostile competitive landscape, with analysts predicting tough times ahead. In the more mature Western markets, subdued consumer spending combined with increased competition will make sales growth increasingly difficult to achieve. The Internet has made geographical advantage less of an issue, and proprietary technologies are not proprietary for long. Elsewhere, breakthrough innovations in products or services are increasingly difficult to sustain. Despite these challenges, companies face continual pressure to reduce costs and provide consumers with more for less - at a time when U.S. shopping malls are, according to media reports, feeling the economic pinch.1

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