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The consumer spending slump and tightening credit markets are unleashing a widening wave of bankruptcies in American retailing, prompting thousands of store closings that are expected to remake suburban malls and shopping districts across the country.
The surging cost of necessities has led to national belt-tightening among consumers. Figures released Monday showed that spending on food and gasoline is crowding out other purchases, leaving less to spend on furniture, clothing and electronics.