With energy and material costs both on the rise, retailers and developers are hard-pressed to find ways to save money in their procurement strategies. The challenge is being cost-conscious while not skimping on the customer's overall shopping experience.

Design has also become more important as shoppers seem to be opting for malls and stores that provide an overall experience that goes beyond the latest clothes or gadgets. Wood finishes, colorful graphics or stonework can all help create new and more fulfilling spaces for consumers.

One factor that has aided both retail chains and owners in managing their costs is through economies of scale. Having larger portfolios of malls or stores gives companies leverage in negotiating the best price on products and services such as janitorial contracts or lighting.

With retailers and developers cutting back, they are looking to outsiders to take on non-core tasks. So outsourcing will continue to be important, and finding the right partners is key.

Even if a company is not a giant, it can still save money if it knows where to shop. Retail Traffic's 2005 Buyers Guide is a helpful listing of vendors that provide everything from auditing to architecture to lighting design to landscaping. We hope you find this guide useful.