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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser / Axios

Big Retail is coming off its worst year since the financial crash, and there will be more bloodletting; 50 retailers declared bankruptcy in 2017, and next year looks worse. Fitch forecasts $7 billion in retail defaults in 2018, 23% higher than the $5.7 billion this year. That is stunning, as retail accounted for a whopping 30% of all 2017 defaults.

Fitch lists these retailers, among others, as most in danger: Sears, Neiman Marcus, J Crew, Talbots, Lands' End and Cole Haan.

What to watch next: whether "experiential" retail, as they call their experiments in transforming physical stores, succeeds in getting people off-line, into their shops, and — most importantly — buying.

Meantime, Amazon is eating the industry, as shoppers chose the convenience and lower prices of online shopping over visiting an actual store.

  • Also look for retailers to use more augmented reality to bring products right into their customers' home. Ikea is leading the way, letting customers see how furniture will look in their homes before they buy.

Sign up for any Axios newsletter to receive this week's quarterly Future Trends lookahead with details on what to watch from all of our subject-matter experts.

Go deeper

Kendall Baker, author of Sports
5 mins ago - Sports

2021 Tokyo Olympics hang in the balance

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

10 months ago, the Tokyo Olympics were postponed. Now, less than six months ahead of their new start date, the dreaded word is being murmured: "canceled."

Driving the news: The Japanese government has privately concluded that the Games will have to be called off, The Times reports (subscription), citing an unnamed senior government source.

Biden's centrist words, liberal actions

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

President Biden talks like a soothing centrist. He promises to govern like a soothing centrist. But early moves show that he is keeping his promise to advance a liberal agenda.

Why it matters: Never before has a president done more by executive fiat in such a short period of time than Biden. And those specific actions, coupled with a push for a more progressive slate of regulators and advisers, look more like the Biden of the Democratic primary than the unity-and-restraint Biden of the general election.

2 hours ago - Technology

Review of Trump ban marks major turning point for Facebook

Photo Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Facebook's decision to ask its new independent Oversight Board to review the company's indefinite suspension of former President Trump is likely to set a critical precedent for how the social media giant handles political speech from world leaders.

What they're saying: "I very much hope and can expect … that they will uphold our decision," Facebook's VP of global affairs Nick Clegg tells Axios.