With Black Friday and holiday shopping, the fourth quarter is the most active period in the retail industry. However, shopping malls probably looked emptier than usual this holiday period as the industry continues to feel the effects of e-commerce — online sales grew 18.1% since last year. For the fourth quarter of 2017, Zignal Labs media and social intelligence platform examined key trends in the retail industry — focusing on e-commerce, sustainable fashion, and bankruptcies.

E-commerce is being transformed by new technologies

With 8 in 10 Americans now shopping online, e-commerce is firmly entrenched as the future of retail. However, new technologies could transform the retail space further. Artificial intelligence was the third most mentioned business topic within the e-commerce conversation as retailers look for ways to personalize the online shopping even further, while an article on how blockchain can help the retail industry avoid fraud through smart contracts was the second most mentioned article.

Amazon continues to dwarf competitors

With news that Amazon could make up almost half of U.S e-commerce sales in 2017, the retail giant continues to pile strength upon strength. The seemingly insurmountable lead the company holds over online competitors is reflected in media data: the brand has 69% share of voice around the topic of e-commerce — five times more than second-place Walmart.

Consumers care about how products are made

Today’s consumers are far more conscientious about how products are made and where they come from. Retailers have responded to this trend by pushing out their own sustainably sourced fashion lines. Out of all the different types of sustainability, it appears that organic fashion is the most popular, with over 110,000 mentions, compared to 59,000 for ethical fashion.

Retail’s doom and gloom is not over yet

Despite the success of e-commerce in 2017, 8,000 stores shuttered their doors in 2017. The topic of bankruptcy accounted for 18% of the overall conversation around retail in Q4. While the majority of this conversation took place in California and Texas, there was also significant chatter around the topic in the Midwest.

Learn more about the top media trends from the retail industry in our Q4 Report