Economy, Competition, and Suppliers' Quality Top List of Retailers' Worries: Study

Retailers are losing sleep over business risk factors like strong competition and general economic conditions, according to research released yesterday by Chicago-based BDO Seidman, LLP, a leading professional services firm.

A survey of the 100 largest public U.S. retailers revealed that another increasing concern is the risk associated with international suppliers, which reflected unease over recent product safety issues with China.

Only 70 percent of retailers cited concerns about impediments to further U.S. expansion, which may indicate that expansion plans have stalled with retailers focusing on reducing costs in a recessionary environment. In 2007, 84 percent of retailers were concerned about U.S. expansion.

Other areas that ranked higher on this year's list include labor risk (62 percent) and the implementation of technology systems (54 percent).

"Ultimately, the research shows increased worry over the state of the economy," said Doug Hart, a partner in BDO Seidman's Retail and Consumer Product practice.. Concern over the economic malaise is not only cited explicitly as a risk factor, but also in the diminished concern over expansion plans, marketing initiatives, loss of key management, and dependency on consumer trends. This reinforces the fact that many retailers are hunkering down for a difficult environment rather than focusing on growth."
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