If there's any retailer that knows how uncomfortable the murky middle can be, it's Wal-Mart, which over the past 30 years has plowed scores of its smaller competitors there, frequently contributing to their ultimate demise. But after a year of economic hardship for Wal-Mart shoppers — and changes in consumer behaviors learned during the recession — it's not without some irony to find the world's largest retailer in some danger of slipping into the middle itself these days. Paradoxically, ...

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