Last year was a tale of two retail sectors. While grocers’ valuations – buoyed by bid speculation – raced ahead of the All Share index, general merchandisers’ stock sank by almost 26 per cent.

In each case, the figures mask a more complex performance against the market as a whole. In the top 10 FTSE 100 risers in 2007, for instance, there was not a single retailer. However, there was one store group among the FTSE 100’s sharpest fallers – step forward troubled DIY group Kingfisher.

Grocers were prominent among the five biggest retail risers of 2007. Food groups’ defensive qualities, their entry into new categories and M&A speculation all helped. Morrisons led the supermarket pack, bolstering its value by more than a quarter, as a mixture of bid speculation and the benefits of changes made by chief executive Marc Bolland had an impact.

Tesco, which emerged relatively unscathed from a competition inquiry and shows no signs of slowing progress, was an unsurprising presence in the climbers list. Sainsbury’s only just failed to make the top five. Near-constant bid interest last year inflated the grocer’s stock, but no deal was sealed.

The biggest climber was Game, as shoppers bought into new generation consoles and associated games. On Monday, the retailer revealed that profits would beat expectations and come in at a minimum of£70 million.

Thorntons demonstrated that smaller, specialist retailers can still find investor favour. The formerly underperforming retailer rose 24 per cent last year after finding new direction under the leadership of chairman John von Spreckelsen and his team.

John David Group rose strongly on the back of impressive trading at the business, which is differentiated from sports rivals.

Carphone Warehouse was a big riser, as initiatives including a partnership with US retailer Best Buy and innovations such as the iPhone created excitement.

There were few surprises among retail’s biggest fallers. Camera specialist Jessops, which lost nearly half of its value, is battling to find a reason for existence, while variety store group Woolworths – under attack from Tesco and Asda – was hit especially hard by bearish broker comment late last year.

Alexon is struggling to hold its place in a ferociously competitive fashion market, while trading at ScS Upholstery has been in a tailspin. Land of Leather’s shares surged in late 2006 in expectation of upgrades that never came and, as 2007 brought higher interest rates and the credit crunch, big-ticket retailers fell from favour.

Now, as January’s trading updates start to roll in, the tone will be set for 2008. Retailers could continue to be in for a rough ride.