Supermarket Morrisons and Argos owner Home Retail were among retailers enjoying share gains today after a string of robust figures from the sector.
Updates also from the likes of department store chain and Waitrose supermarket owner John Lewis Partnership ensured a buoyant session for retail stocks, despite lacklustre trading on the wider London market.
The FTSE 100 Index edged 0.6 points higher to close at 6589 amid continued speculation about whether the US Federal Reserve will begin tapering asset purchases next week and ongoing caution over the Syrian crisis.
On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average struggled for direction in early trade with investors focusing on next week's Fed policy-setting meeting for further clues on quantitative easing.
The pound eased back slightly after yesterday's strong gains due to the fall in Britain's rate of unemployment, which confirmed market expectations that interest rates will rise sooner than predicted.
But sterling largely held firm at 1.58 US dollars and 1.19 euros.
The announcement that Royal Mail will be privatised in the coming weeks was also in sharp focus.
Retail investors will be able buy shares at a minimum of £750 and can apply through intermediaries or direct by post or online.
Spread betting firm IG said its grey market on the valuation attracted a steady stream of buyers, with early wagers suggesting that the firm will have a market valuation of around £2.88 billion on the first day of trading, which could see it enter the FTSE 100.
In the top flight, Morrisons rose 2% or 5.3p to 302.5p after chief executive Dalton Philips said like-for-like sales were steadily improving as the company's turnaround plan starts to bear fruit.
But half-year profits at the UK's fourth-biggest grocer still dived 22% to £344 million as it continues to count the cost of past under-investment in convenience stores and online retailing.
Rival Sainsbury's was also higher, up 4.7p to 400.8p.
In the FTSE 250, shares in Home Retail Group set the pace after favourable weather drove an 11% jump in like-for-like sales at its Homebase chain.
Argos, which is part of the same group, was 2.7% higher in the 13 weeks to August 31.
Shares were lifted 8.8p to 172.7p, while homewares group Dunelm likewise gained ground in the second tier after a well-received set of full-year figures and news of a special dividend windfall to investors.
The group, which saw pre-tax profits leap 12.3% to £108.1 million, rose 10p to 940p.
But shares in oil and gas engineering group Kentz Corporation saw shares tumble 9% or 50.5p to 499p after it said Amec was no longer interested in bidding for the company.
Amec tabled an unsuccessful approach worth £690 million last month and its shareholders were relieved that the company will not be drawn into a bidding tussle. Shares in the FTSE 100 Index company climbed 20p to 1078p.
The biggest FTSE 100 risers were Amec ahead 20p at 1078p, Morrisons up 5.3p at 302.5p, Glencore Xstrata 4.7p higher at 343.7p and William Hill up 5.1p to 424.1p.
The biggest FTSE 100 fallers were Randgold Resources down 118p to 4496p, Aggreko off 41p to 1610p, Antofagasta 22p lower at 864p and IMI down 30p at 1477p.