A month after it started, the great wave of price-cutting calmed down last week into a tiny ripple. Most of the merchants in Newburyport, Mass., who had started it all, abandoned their program to refund 10% on all retail purchases. So did Newburyport's imitators across the nation. Merchants called it all a mistake. In the last eddy of the wave kicked up by Newburyport, a grocer in Byington, Tenn. posted invoice prices on his goods, let his customers decide the markup. They decided 20%, which was his normal markup, was about right. His business improved. But by &...

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