First established in 1988, Retail Week brings together retail leaders, experts and past editors to reflect on the past 35 years and to explore what the future now holds for the industry. Access your free copy of the magazine here

In 1988, it was a launch intended to unite and guide the industry at a time of unprecedented change.

Created for a “dynamic, stylish and innovative” sector driven by “collective decision-making”, its goal was to create content that “stimulated debate”, taking a reflective view on long-term trends.  

Those founding principles remain just as relevant today. The art of retailing has evolved beyond all recognition in terms of technological sophistication, supply chains and, of course, customer behaviour. However, the need for the sector to be informed, to unite, debate and innovate is just as vital today as 35 years ago.  

Among those unprecedented changes back in 1988 was the sudden shift to ‘big box’ out-of-town retailing. A retail format was commonplace today but game-changing back then, driven by customer demand for newness and convenience. 

Since then, Retail Week has observed and analysed countless more macro shifts that have left an indelible impact. They include the explosion of ecommerce, punctuated by Amazon’s 1998 launch in the UK. Even as recently as 2006 – when Asos was in its relative infancy – online fashion in particular had its naysayers. Latest figures suggest UK online fashion is worth more than £30bn.  

Equally fascinating have been various successful and myriad foiled attempts at international expansion as UK retail set its sights on global domination. Other major developments include the grocers’ move into non-food and the birth of hypermarkets. 

And Retail Week has keenly observed the lightning pace with which technology has become central to retailers’ strategies. Back in 2003, chip and pin was considered revolutionary. Today, we’re staring at the startling potential of AI, which could alleviate the most painful of retailing headaches, from rising costs to forecasting. 

So today, despite a post-pandemic backdrop of inflation, post-Brexit bureaucracy and supply chain volatility, retailers can be assured these challenges will pass.

New ones will take their place, but Retail Week will still exist, providing essential insight and building the networks upon which retail thrives.  

Here’s to the next 35 years. 

Read Retail Week’s 35th-anniversary magazine edition for free here. Discover: 

  • 35th-Anniversary-issue-front-cover

    Retail leaders’ predictions for the next 35 years, including forecasts from Primark CEO Paul Marchant, Waitrose executive director James Bailey, Matalan chief executive Jo Whitfield and many more 
  • A look at Retail Week past editors’ biggest stories since 1988 and the lessons they hold for the sector 
  • How consumer habits have evolved over the past 35 years and what the consumer of the future looks like 
  • A review of the biggest tech transformations in retail’s past, present and future