Given the regiments of fresh faced dot commies pouring through the staff entrances of the multiples these days you would be forgiven for thinking that internet shopping is the only wheeze on the big retailers' development agendas. But while the race to win a larger share of online shoppers' wallets will stretch the imagination of development directors for a long time yet, it's not the only twist in the 21st century survival plot. For, as industry institutions and analysts queued up this week to warn us, the next few years will see the multiples forced into taking even bigger risks to boost turnover as market growth continues to slow. Indeed, you don't have to be a Harvard economist to realise, as the IGD rightly proclaims, that a combination of factors, notably price pressure and globalisation, will hit profit growth, forcing the big players to adopt high risk strategies to reap the rewards they require to continue building their businesses. So while the well heeled Tesco and Asda continue to knock lumps out of each other at the top of the pile, the focus will inevitably fall on the efforts of the less well equipped players. And since three of them, Sainsbury, Safeway and Somerfield, have all recruited new chief executives, and are eager to impress shareholders and City alike, it's fair to expect much of the action in the struggle for profitable survival to come from them. But, if this week's dramatic predictions are anything to go by, the new boys Messrs Davis, Criado-Perez and Smith will need to work even harder to find strategies that ensure their long-term independent survival. Expansion of online shopping is a potentially massive option. But might it also be down to their individual attempts to revitalise conventional retailing operations which ultimately makes the difference between success and failure in the battle for market share? Oh, and while all that's going on we're assured that "at least two" foreign predators are waiting expectantly in the wings. Could be a very different retail scene in 2005. Clive Beddall, Editor {{OPINION }}