Part of that is down to the scale, diversity and vibrancy of retail. There is always something happening in one of its sub-sectors and a year in retail can be a very long time. I haven't even been writing this column for a whole year, but thanks to the variety of topics I've been able to cover, it certainly feels like it.
The more I thought about it, the more I realised that the only standout headline-grabbing story of the year was the M&S/Philip Green episode.
Does this mean 2004 has been less than vintage? I think it does.
Having asked myself what 2004's single most exciting moment in retail was, who the new kids on the block were in terms of a growing business, and which personalities were making a name for themselves, I struggled to come up with the answers. That's not to say it was a poor year for retail but, on reflection, it was quieter than normal.
The M&S saga was the exception to the rule and Stuart Rose and Philip Green take the award for Top Retail Soap Opera of 2004. The story of the two heavyweights slugging it out for control of a UK retail institution certainly made for absorbing reading over the summer months.
It is disappointing that no new retail business established itself as a real player during 2004. This could be testament to the fact that it is increasingly tough to break into this extremely competitive marketplace.
If I were to pick one business to applaud for its progress in 2004, though, I would plump for Inditex. Its Zara stores continue to go from strength to strength and the company has launched its third brand - Bershka - into the UK market, a sure sign of a strong, confident retailer.
Looking at the key sub-sectors, young fashion stands out as the success story. Seemingly untouched by a downturn in spending, it is looking more vibrant than ever. Who would have thought several years ago that brands such as Top Shop and Jane Norman would become destination stores for celebrities and It girls?
How envious furniture stores and some of the electrical retailers must be. When consumer confidence starts to waver, big-ticket purchases are the first to be hit. At KMPG we know this all too well, having been acting as administrators to stricken furniture retailer Courts for several weeks.
Sadly, it may not be the last big name to suffer.
No review of 2004 can ignore the supermarket sector. Tesco and Asda continue to outperform the rest, Sainsbury's is still grappling with supply-chain issues and Morrisons needs more time to digest Safeway. Waitrose, however, appears to be buzzing and will have been delighted at at recent study stating that it took healthy eating more seriously than any other grocer.
There is one date in 2004 that stands out in my mind - April 21. This was the day on which my first column appeared. After eight enjoyable months of sharing my thoughts on retail, it is time to hand over responsibility. My colleague Helen Dickinson, who is taking over as KPMG's head of retail, will also be taking over this column. Helen's insights and comments have proved invaluable to me in writing this column and I am sure her expertise will shine through during 2005. All that remains is for me to say thanks for reading and have a merry Christmas.
- Amanda Aldridge is head of retail at KPMG
30 SECONDS ON ... THE COLLAPSE OF COURTS
- Furniture retailer Courts went into administration on 30 November after creditors rejected plans to restructure its £280m debt.
- The collapse did not go down well with customers left waiting in vain for delivery. Windows at Courts stores were smashed, an angry mob besieged staff in the Port Talbot outlet, and in Milton Keynes a security guard was thrown out a window.
- Two weeks later, stores reopened under a deal between administrator KPMG and SB Capital, which will operate Courts' 88 UK stores until 20 February. All but 14 will then close. Those spared the chop will be converted into outlets of SB Capital's Furnitureland chain.
- Courts will survive overseas, where its operations are trading as normal. Before its collapse, the retailer had 350 stores across 20 countries, including 95 in the Caribbean.