Mighty Amazon's colossal year strikes fear into jittery rivals

(File) Jeff Bezos, Amazon Founder/CEO

SEATTLE - Amazon's gain of 58 percent in 2017 was hardly shabby, but that number only begins to tell of the enormous effect the company had on the broader market over the past year. No other company struck as much fear in its rivals, or potential rivals.

Department stores and mall-based retailers continued to plunge as Americans did more of their shopping at Amazon, while other companies like Walmart raced to build up their own online offerings.

And when Amazon snapped up Whole Foods in June, investors dumped the stocks of supermarket companies.

Blue Apron, a startup that went public in June, took a dive when Amazon got into the meal kit business. And in the fall, a number of drugstore companies tanked at the prospect that Amazon was thinking of getting into drug distribution.

Amazon's entry into the entertainment industry also is shaking up that market sector as the company dumps billions into original programming for Prime members.

Now, scores of cities across the U.S. and Canada are clamoring at the prospect of landing Amazon's second headquarters - and with it, investments topping $5 billion.

Along the way, founder Jeff Bezos became the world's richest person in 2017, knocking Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates out of the No. 1 spot he has held since May 2013. Bezos now has a net worth of $99.6 billion, compared with $91.3 billion for Gates.

What will 2018 hold for the online behemoth and its trembling rivals? Stay tuned ...

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