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Given the size of Costco's box and the traffic its clubs generate, growth has been something that it has had to approach with caution. And now more than ever, the retailer brings considerable diligence to the store-growth process.
Costco has tried various strategies over the past few years. Five years ago, it often made a big splash opening several units simultaneously in major new markets, as it did in Detroit. The rollout was a big hit with Motor City residents, but, in a classic case of damned if you do, damned if you don't, it was part of a rapid growth spurt that generated analyst complaints due to the impact on the company's SG&A.
Today, Costco has been looking at slower growth, not because of analysts' concerns--the company made it clear at the time that it would …