The recession may be over, but for many supermarket companies, the pain lingered on through 2010. Stubborn deflation and lingering unemployment kept a tight lid on sales growth for many operators, who wrestled with pricing and margin issues all year. “Overall, the economic recovery is slower and weaker than we anticipated it would be at this point in the year,” said David Dillon, chairman and chief executive officer, Kroger Co., in a recent earnings conference call. “Job growth remains ...

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