Food and drink retailers are weathering the economic storm far better than the retail sector as a whole, research from financial advisers Grant Thornton has confirmed.

Sixty seven per cent of food and drink retailers issued positive statements in the fourth quarter of 2008, compared with just 20% of non-food retailers. Food retailers also outperformed the sector in like-for-like sales growth, with 83% reporting year-on-year sales growth, versus 29% of general retailers.

"It has been a harrowing three months for retail, with some large names going into administration and most having to seriously discount their products to turn stock into cash," said Grant Thornton head of retail, David Bush. "The retailers likely to succeed in 2009 will be those that hold on to market share without seriously damaging gross margins."