REBUILDING AN INDUSTRY

Just as the hurricanes that devastated Florida this summer forced food retailers there to scrub down their stores and start over with new inventory, supermarket companies around the country also spent much of 2004 putting a fresh sheen on their operations.

In a tumultuous year in which commodity-price inflation put pressure on margins and consumer confidence seemed stubbornly stuck in second gear, the industry took a great many steps toward ensuring that they would be better pre

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