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Inflation's Toll on Retailers

Sherwin Williams Co. on July 17 announced its third price increase in eight months. The company has been having "difficult discussions" with retailers, Chris Connor, chairman and CEO, said on its quarterly conference call.

The price increases are "well supported with facts in terms of why the company needs them," he said. "Our customers, to the best of their ability, are passing them on."

Hasbro said the retailers it sells to didn't like price increases the company announced Monday "but they recognize that their own private-label costs are going up and they've accepted it."

The increases leave retailers in a bind: They can keep prices steady and cut profit margins or raise prices and risk losing sales.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has been in the lead of aggressively keeping prices down, pressuring its competitors to do the same.

"We have seen inflation and we have passed some of that through," said John Simley, a Wal-Mart spokesman. "We have, wherever possible, worked with our suppliers to reduce the inflationary impact as much as possible."

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