Western Europe and the US are in a periodof economic consolidation. In the countries surveyed, grocery retailing is typically themost important component of retail sales; spending on food and beverages however is undercompetitive threat from other leisure activities. Market growth in grocery retailing isslowing, with consumers looking to alternative channels. Given this, the relative power ofgrocery retailers is not likely to change as they become increasingly skilled andchallenged to provide innovative services to their customers. In turn, these changes willforce suppliers to be increasingly flexible in terms of production and delivery, able toservice a growing number of retail formats and channels from an improving cost base.