This is the most transformative era in the history of retailing and those shops that are doubling down, investing in their businesses and evolving with the times are thriving.

Willingness to adapt to changing market conditions and provide a positive customer experience are among the traits required for British Retail Awards finalists to be successful. Others include the creation of a digital experience that complements the physical presence and the ability to connect positively with customers.

Retail is changing at an unprecedented speed, and with it come big challenges and opportunities. 2019 had the slowest rate of spending growth since 2010, largely driven by Brexit uncertainty. The industry faced large-scale business restructuring: 85,000 jobs lost, a third of FTSE 350 CEOs changing, and 9,169 store closures. There was also a rise in activism, largely driven by millennials and Gen Z who are demanding their voices be heard. These factors combined with the Covid 19 pandemic are going to have a huge impact on the consumer world, not just for the next year but for the decade ahead.

Retail remains the single largest private sector employer in the UK, with one in 10 people working in retail, and annual sales totalling a staggering £358bn.

Despite the alarming headlines on the demise of the British high street, online sales still only account for 17 percent of total retail sales in the UK, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Britain’s retail landscape is dominated by supermarkets such as Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons, followed by department stores such as John Lewis.

Brent Cross Shopping Centre is set to double in size in a £1.4bn redevelopment and   one of the biggest out- of-town shopping centres in the UK for 20 years, Axiom, is going to be built near Leeds, covering 600,000 sq ft.

However contrary to belief,  the high street is not dead,  it is evolving, as large chain stores struggle to compete with the rise of online sales, independent and artisan retailers are stepping up to take their place.  In addition as the high street continues to change, retailers which bridge the gap between digital and real-world interactions will prosper.

The UK is a long way from an online-only future – people still enjoy visiting the high street, and while some offline shops are closing, other online shops are seeking a high-street presence. We may see consolidation between some of the data-rich online players and those that bring high-street glamour.

Those retailers that work hardest to acquire customer knowledge and put it to good use will be best placed to compete in the future  Building and cultivating good relations with customers based on engagement and data is crucial, because it not only affects the possibilities to engage much more deeply with customers, but also supports product innovation and gives the retailer a competitive edge.

The companies recognised within this years British Retail Awards are transforming the retail experience by creating a store of the future and building diverse teams built on sustainable values which attract the best and brightest from around the world.

Until now it has been hard to identify the best companies when it comes to retailing.  The British Retail Awards will provide a long awaited index of the most proactive retailers in the UK and will shine a light on best practice across all strands of retailing including, customer service, engagement, digital impact, communication with internal and external stakeholders, supply chain sustainability, product quality continuity and international sales.

The Retail Power 100 publication will be launched within a high-quality silver foiled publication.  The companies featured within the final report will then be reviewed and a number will be shortlisted to receive a prestigious British Retail Award.

The British Retail Awards presentation will take place at a star-studded reception in Central London and it will, without doubt, catch the attention of the local, national and international media. Key influential decision makers will be in attendance to witness this exciting launch and the initiative will herald a new era for promoting Britain’s leading companies within the online and high street retail sectors.