Chastened by the recession retailers including Gap and AnnTaylor Stores are poring over their holdings, looking for stores they can cut down to size.

The effort marks a new phase in the industry's response to the weak economy. After consumers snapped shut their wallets in the fall of 2008, sending sales plummeting, retailers laid off waves of employees and slashed inventory.

Now, many of them see re-evaluating their real estate, one of retailing's biggest expenses, as a critical step on their path to recovery.

"During the '90s era, everybody wanted a bigger box," says Kay Krill, AnnTaylor's chief executive. "Now, all of us are trying to get out of those bigger boxes."

Wall Street Journal