By Phil Wahba
December 22, 2015

What a bruising year 2015 has been for traditional retailers.

Not only did the lowest gas prices in years not translate into a bonanza for many stores, but brick-and-mortar companies had to contend with (amzn) stealing their lunch in the e-commerce wars and painful shifts in consumer spending patterns.

Even though in-store spending still generates 90% of retailer’s revenues, 2015 was an inflection point: on Thanksgiving-Black Friday weekend, more people shopped online than in stores. And in a sign that investors have more faith in’s prospects (amzn) than they do in those of physical stores, the online retailer’s stock market value eclipsed Walmart’s (wmt) last summer and has left it in the dust since then.

Meanwhile, companies like Macy’s (m) continued to struggle against the emergence of discount fashion chains like TJX’s (tax) T.J. Maxx, as American fashion stalwarts like Gap Inc (gps) try desperately to stand out in a cluttered apparel landscape against tough rivals like H&M and Uniqlo.

Still, all is not lost for retailers. In a research note, Nomura Securities on Monday sounded an upbeat note, “the U.S. macro environment has shaped up quite favorably, with the consumer in a better position to spend relative to last year.”

Then again, many were expecting 2015 to be a great year. But it didn’t turn out that way.

Before we turn our attention to 2016, let’s have a look back at the year that is almost over, with 10 of our favorite stories. (Though honestly we could have gone on for longer, with all the drama in retail this year.)


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