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From the editor-in-chief

Welcome to the RetailX Top500 2020 report where this year we’re marking a change of name from the InternetRetailing Top500. The change recognises and reflects the part that InternetRetailing’s research arm RetailX plays in this annual listing of the leading multichannel and ecommerce retailers selling in the UK. We believe this sixth annual report, as with its predecessors, stands apart from the crowd in its performance-led analysis of how leading retailers sell in the UK. The research starts with a Footprint ranking based on size – of revenues, store networks and web traffic – before moving on to analyse that footprint in terms of performance through six Performance Dimensions: Strategy & Innovation, The Customer, Merchandising, Brand Engagement, Operations & Logistics and Mobile & Cross-channel. This approach enables us to judge and rank retailers on how well they perform day-to-day in the UK’s changing retail market.

In last year’s report, we said that the retail market continued to be turbulent – and so it proved. Uncertainty around Brexit meant that we saw two different days on which the UK might have left the European Union without a deal, a change of Prime Minister and, to end the year, a general election. But the uncertainty continues this year, with retailers still not clear on exactly what Brexit will mean for them. At the same time, traders continue to respond as the way shoppers buy continues to change. Customers are now much more willing to buy more products online – but at the same time they remain uncertain about whether they can afford to buy. Thousands of shops are expected to close over the coming year in what has been described as a retail crisis, while shoppers may also be responding to calls for increased sustainability in the light of climate change.  

But in 2020, this report suggests, retailers appear to be responding at this time of change by adapting and developing the way that they sell, whether that’s through stores, through the seamless service that they now offer on mobile or through improved merchandising, delivery and sustainable packaging options. In previous years, we’ve seen a minority of top retailers work to improve their multichannel offerings, while the average retailers lagged behind. This year that seems to be changing as a majority of businesses improve their performance in ways that their customers will appreciate. Even though much remains to be done that general improvement in the wider market makes the performance of this year’s Elite retailers all the more impressive. Our warm congratulations to our Elite retailers of 2020: Amazon, Argos, Dunelm, John Lewis, Marks & Spencer and Next.  

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