Retailing is a fast-paced industry that John Riordan, executive vice president of the International Council of Shopping Centers, calls ``the most aggressive form of human behavior outside of war.'' Everybody's looking to get the edge, which can mean different things at different times in the development of shopping centers - food courts, vertical malls, urban festival marketplaces, specialty malls, video kiosks, discount malls, and the like.

More intimate centers can thrive along with a megamall, such as the 800-store West Edmonton Mall in Edmonton, Alberta. Other megaprojects are in the planning stage for Bloomington, Minn., and Leeds, England, with the Edmonton mall developers holding invitations to build huge shopping compounds in Moscow and Beijing.

Bloomington's 78-acre ``Mall of America,'' scheduled to open in the fall of 1992, is expected to be a Midwestern tourist attraction, complete with a 300,000-square-foot amusement park designed by Knott's Berry Farm of California.

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