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REUTERS/Rick Wilking

Dollar Tree to buy rival Family Dollar for $8.5 billion

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Discount chain Dollar Tree will buy rival Family Dollar for about $8.5 billion, in a surprise deal that will help it fend off increasing competition from big-box retailers such as Wal-Mart.

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Dollar stores have struggled in a weak U.S. economy as Wal-Mart and other large retail chain chase penny-pinching consumers by offering more items priced at $1 or less.

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