A storming performance by the grocery sector is helping to lift the whole of retail.

Analysts at Grant Thornton found most retailers issued positive or neutral trading statements during the first quarter of 2007.

"Results have been buoyed by the food and drink sector, with 83% of grocers issuing positive trading statements," said David Bush of Grant Thornton. "Not a single listed grocer issued a profit warning during this period."

Forty-four per cent of all listed retailers issued positive statements for the first three months of 2007, compared with 33% in 2006. Some 46% were neutral statements last year, with 10% negative.