The concept of the circular economy is gaining momentum in political and business thinking about the transition to a more sustainable future. EuroCommerce and the European Retail Round Table, for example, have argued that leading retailers are keen to play a leading role in shaping the circular economy within Europe. This exploratory research note outlines the characteristic features of the concept of the circular economy, provides some illustrations of how Europe’s leading retailers are publicly addressing circular economy approaches and offers some general reflections on the application of the concept within the retail sector of the economy. The findings reveal that almost 50% of the leading European retailers signalled a commitment to the circular economy and to the principles underpinning it and a number of them looked to evidence their commitment within their retail operations. That said the authors suggest that If Europe’s leading retailers’ public commitments to a more circular economy are to become a reality then they will not only need to effect a radical change in their current business models and that this will need to be accompanied by radical changes in consumers consumption behaviour. More contentiously, there must be concerns that the leading European retailers might effectively capture the concept of the circular economy to justify continuing economic growth.