late 1960s offered a much less friendly environment for industry mergers than exists today. An SN cover story on Jan. 23, 1967, reported on a series of new guidelines developed by the Federal Trade Commission that severely limited mergers and expansions among large retailers.
According to the article, the revised guidelines meant "that behemoth retailers must content themselves with internal expansion because the merger route will be a rocky one."
Under the guidelines, the FTC said acquisitions by food chains with annual sales of at least $500 million would draw attention and consideration. In addition, mergers of firms with sales of more than $100 million would also be investigated, with those firms required to give 60-day, pre-merger notification.
In marked contrast, the merger environment in the last decade has been much looser, with the FTC routinely approving mergers between companies accounting for multibillion dollars in sales, asking only that handfuls of overlapping stores be divested.