Something quite out of the ordinary happened last week: H. Lee Scott, president and chief executive officer of Wal-Mart Stores, made a speaking appearance at the National Retail Federation's convention at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York. This is a more unusual happenstance than it might seem on its face, for a couple of reasons. One is that high-ranking retailing executives are increasingly reluctant to speak at trade forums. It seems as though the industry has become so ...

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