So how did most of the retailers achieve growth in this tough retail environment? They bought it. Seven of the first 10 companies on the list grew by acquisition.
Topping the charts was DineEquity, formally IHOP, which acquired the Applebee's chain last year. Sales for the company's restaurant chains have more than tripled since the acquisition.
Supermarket operators have rarely made it to the list, but A&P has hit No. 4 by purchasing fellow New Jersey-based grocer Pathmark Stores. Susser Holdings , a convenience store operator, landed in the No. 3 spot after buying Town & Country Food Stores and Village Market grocery stores.
But where's the organic growth? Los Angeles-based casual apparel store American Apparel was tops in this group, with revenue rising 57.6 percent from 2008. This pace was enough to put it in the No. 2 spot overall.
Apple Stores , which ranked No. 5, is another chain with strong organic growth. That should come as no surprise to anyone who has been at a mall with an Apple store lately. While other stores may have a handful of shoppers browsing around, larger crowds of customers hungry for iPods and iPhones are typically milling around Apple Stores, regardless of the day or hour. What's more, they're not just window shopping. Apple Store revenue was up 46.0 percent over the past year, according to the survey.
Apple's also been busy opening new stores. Last year, the company opened 50 new stores, but that pace will be halved this year.