2017 was the year challenges facing retailers began to bleed into the consumer goods and food industries.
As shoppers continue their shift online, companies are trying to figure out not only what shoppers want, but how to get it to them. Stores can no longer rely on malls for foot traffic and food giants increasingly can't rely on supermarkets for aisle visits.
Retailers, whose boldest efforts to grow through to scale over the past few years were blocked by regulators, looked for new kinds of deals. This time around, they sought capabilities (digital, services), not more unused store space. The value of worldwide retail deals was $132 billion in 2017, a roughly 90 percent jump from the year prior, according to Dealogic. When they weren't doing deals, they were finding a partner to dance. Walmart and Amazon actively courted partners (Lord and Taylor, Kohl's as examples) as part of their ongoing battle for retail domination.
Food companies, meanwhile, continued their quest for growth as pressure on them intensified and attempts to grow or innovate on their own continued to largely stall. That pressure seemed to have risen to the top of the C-suite, as an inordinate number of food CEOs stepped down this year or announced plans to. They included Mondelez's Irene Rosenfeld, General Mills' Ken Powell and Kellogg's John Bryant.
Here are five lessons we learned this year. (You already know which deal topped the list, so feel free to read through slowly and enjoy the ride.)