As we approach the end of 2018, this week's round-up features a variety of "top" stories and "best of" lists, as well as reviews of the year that was in retail, including what one publication is dubbing the top retailer of the year. We also tackle updates on the tariff issue and investigate some on-the-ground trends that are shaping the story of retail.

Here's the top stories we're reading early this week that are shaping the world of commerce, retail, and technology. If you have any tips or stories you'd like to share, feel free to send them to us on Twitter! And, if you like what we're doing here -- be sure to share this link with your colleagues in email, Slack or text message!

🏆 Year-End Review: Amazon Is The Undisputed 2018 Retailer Of The Year | Via: (
Amazon Go. Amazon Prime + Whole Foods. GH Lab. Alexa. Amazon 4-Star. Fashion Pop-ups. Prime Day. This list represents just the last year in the life of Amazon and why they're at the top of the heap as retailer of the past year. That being said, there's still some wrinkles: There's some dissent in the Amazon marketplace leaving room for disruption, and in the world of data, it's tough to beat Facebook in what they know about how we shop. One of their most underrated features is Marketplace where thousands of users are selling goods. What's stopping Facebook from leveraging this existing market with pay-per-conversion in the vein of how current digital ad marketplaces work today?


🚢 Imports reach record 2M TEUs as retailers rush to beat tariffs | Via: (
Retailers are rushing orders into the United States in an effort to get ahead of (now postponed) tariff increases on products coming from China. According to the National Retail Federation, the remainder of this year will be strong, as November was estimated at 2.01 million TEUs, a 14% YoY increase.


⚡️ Light Speed: The Ability To Adopt New Technology Will Shape The Retail Sector Within A Few Years | Via: (
If you're looking for the perfect example of how fast technology is not only moving, but being adopted, look no further than Amazon Go. It took less than two years to go from concept to the implementation of the physical store, and already is proving to be a template for which the future of shopping looks like. According to Forbes, if Amazon follows its usual innovation model, it will integrate third parties to offset its development investment, as it did with logistics and cloud computing, which will divide the market between those chains that work with Amazon and pay for some type of commission or license and those who choose their own development model or work with other suppliers.

🚀 Japan's Retail, Banking Sectors Reacting to Disruptive Technologies | Via: (
Once noted for having a bank on nearly every corner, Japan's rich tradition of banking is now facing a turning point. As part of a wide-ranging panel on adapting development to new technologies, held at the ULI Japan Fall Conference in Tokyo in November, industry leaders discussed using e-commerce data to drive development decisions, adapting Japan’s traditional banking sector for the future, and creating a more innovative startup culture.

🥇 The retail/restaurant companies that are the best place to work are… | Via: (

  • Only eight retail and restaurant companies cracked a list of the 100 best places to work in the U.S.
  • Retail companies — led by the general merchandise segment — gave a big boost to job market in November.
  • Year-over-year, retail employment was down by 16,300 jobs unadjusted as a tight labor market made it difficult to fill positions, the NRF said.
    November saw monthly gains 39,300 jobs at general merchandise stores, which include department stores and warehouse clubs, and that number alone accounted for a quarter of job gains seen economy-wide in November.
  • Economy-wide, average hourly earnings in November were up 6 cents over October to $27.35 and up 81 cents from a year ago, a year-over-year increase of 3.1%.

⭐️ Amazon 4 Star: Maybe Brick-And-Mortar Retail Isn't So Easy After All | Via: (
While the concept of Amazon's 4 Star is interesting (the only items sold in the store have received a 4 star rating or above), there's some ways it could be better. Here's some ideas from Neil Stern, a contributing writer to Forbes.

👣 Small-format stores and rising rents are reshaping urban retail | Via: (
An interesting trend is appearing for retail: Increasingly, retail is becoming much more entrenched in close proximity to urban areas where there's increased demands for neighboring workers who frequent these stores, as well as the places where foot traffic is highest, according to a recent report from the JLL real estate firm. Another wrench in the future of retail is the convergence of co-working spaces, and mounting vacancies that are not entirely related to market-based rent increases.

🛒 Connecticut’s tale of two retail environments | Via: (

  • Mall developer Brookfield Properties is still saying the 700,000 square-foot SoNo Collections in Norwalk is on schedule to open sometime next year.
    Other Fairfield County malls are also doing well: Clothing retailer H&M is returning to the Danbury Fair Mall sometime next year after closing a store there in 2014.
  • Credit rating service Fitch Ratings last week downgraded its ratings for a loan pool made up of regional malls around the country, the largest of which is the Crystal Mall in Waterford.
  • Indianapolis-based Simon Property Group, which owns the successful Clinton Crossing Premium Outlets, also owns Crystal Mall.
  • Melissa Che, a senior director with Fitch, said there are a number of unknowns with the Crystal Mall.

🤔 Setting a new standard for retail pot stores in Boston | Via: (

  • In 2016, Massachusetts residents voted to legalize recreational marijuana and, this past July, the Commonwealth authorized retail sales to begin.
  • Now, cities have taken to establishing rigorous bans or moratoriums on stores opening that sell cannabis until at least the end of 2019.
  • Cities in Colorado and California with legal cannabis sales have run into serious equity problems, in both where facilities are sited and who is profiting from them.

💪🏽 With SF's retail storefronts empty, mayor pushes for more flexibility | Via: (

  • San Francisco Mayor London Breed is to announce plans Monday for legislation and permitting changes to make it faster and easier to open a retail business, in an effort to fill the empty storefronts that have deadened city neighborhoods for years.
  • One solution to retail vacancies: Pop-up stores.
  • Brian Yee, co-owner of City Smoke House, hopes the changes will allow his barbecue delivery business to open a takeout window next to its kitchen.

📉 Retail is getting crushed ahead of the holidays, and charts point to more pain: Analyst | Via: (

Investors are 'checking out' of retail as the sector appears on track for its worst-performing quarter since the financial crisis. On deck: One source suggests CostCo could be the next victim of the sell-off:

  • Shares of the big-box retailer are up nearly 19 percent year to date, compared with a more than 4 percent drop in the broader XRT ETF , which tracks the retail sector.
  • After hitting a fresh all-time high of $54.50 back in August, the XRT ETF has now fallen more than 17 percent.
  • While shares of Costco have been able to buck the trend in the broader retail space this year, Worth believes the stock's recent inability to break above its own upward trend line suggests there could be pain ahead.