Retail could be hurt by shrinking 'invisible economy' for years

Start with a U.S. recession. Add constrained credit conditions. Mix in an aging population. Then subtract five to ten million customers. Stir.

What do you have? Not only declining consumer spending and retail sales, but a structurally altered retail landscape -- perhaps permanently.

That's one of the 'new realities' that the nation is likely to face as it inches its way back toward economic growth, says economist Peter Dawson. And the primary reason is a major reduction in the 'invisible economy' -- undocumented workers who spent money in the U.S. who have returned to Mexico and other home countries, due the recession and the lack of work in the U.S.