With the rise in overhead costs that they can do nothing about - such as energy, business rates and the minimum wage - retailers have no option but to try to manage the costs that they do have control over. It hasn't just been fashion retailers such as Marks & Spencer, New Look and Matalan, but the supermarkets, which have been turning the screw.
No one denies this makes life tough for suppliers, but because of the intensity of price competition, the alternative to tough terms is retailers failing.
The key is that the relationship with suppliers is seen as a partnership. Retailers are entitled to share the pain with their suppliers in difficult times, but the quid pro quo is that this needs to be remembered in good times and rewarded by loyalty - and, hopefully, increased volumes.
Retailers get a lot of stick, sometimes fairly, sometimes not, but this week's Business in the Community Awards showed just how the sector is taking the lead on responsible business practices.
Marks & Spencer was named company of the year, Waitrose picked up a gong and Tesco and Boots came close. The Prince of Wales gave out two special awards, both to retailers - John Lewis chairman Sir Stuart Hampson and ex-Asda boss Allan Leighton.
Because they are in the public eye, retailers come under more pressure than most big businesses to ensure their business practices are socially and environmentally friendly. It is to the industry's credit that it is rising to the challenge so well.