Many retailers have weathered the trading storms well post credit crunch but their efforts have frequently not been matched by investor enthusiasm.

Many retailers have weathered the trading storms well post credit crunch but their efforts have frequently not been matched by investor enthusiasm.

As 2010 draws to a close general retailers have just about managed to tread water and this week were down 1.75 year on year.

Similarly the share prices of big grocers, traditionally seen as good defensive stocks, have turned in an indifferent performance.

Setting aside the retailers whose shares have climbed strongly in recent months for one-off reasons or from an extremely low base - such as Findel, which flailed for much of the year or Kesa, which has been the subject of bid speculation - many of the big risers were those tipped as likely success stories early in 2010.

They include Burberry at one end which, despite bid talk last week, has prospered by maintaining appeal to high-end customers. At the other end there is Dunelm, with a focus on value that has catered for cash-conscious shoppers. And there are the differentiated, such as idiosyncratic fashion firm Ted Baker.

Distinctiveness has marked out the two successful IPOs of the year - Ocado and SuperGroup. The former, despite its disappointing share price performance since flotation, is the only online specialist in grocery and puts an emphasis on service. The latter has carved out a position in the crowded clothing aisles with its must-have Superdry brand.

The new year will dawn with as much uncertainty as the old closed. The heavy snow will have hit some groups’ Christmas trading and, even allowing for some impressive updates during the forthcoming January reporting season, tax rises and continuing economic uncertainty make the trading prospects hard to gauge.

It may be a while yet before investors want to stock up on stores generally. In the meantime the characteristics of this year’s retail share price success stories are likely to remain most in demand.

See Retail Week Knowledge Bank’s for full profiles of all quoted retailers at retail-week.com/rwkb