Retail sales continued to grow for the 24th consecutive month in March – up 4.2% year on year, the latest estimates from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) indicate. However, a small drop was recorded month-on-month, with spending down 0.3% from February.

The uplift means the two-year period has been the longest of sustained year-on-year growth since May 2008, when there were 31 consecutive monthly increases ahead of the global recession.

The three-month period to the end of March saw a 0.9% uplift, representing the 25th consecutive period of growth – the longest period of sustained growth since November 2007 when there were also 25 periods of increased sales. But sales fell 0.5% during the month of March, on February with petrol stations falling 6.2%.

Average store prices, including petrol stations, fell for the ninth consecutive month – off 3.1% compared with March 2014. Petrol stations contributed the largest year-on-year, down 12.8% – the 19th consecutive decline.

The amount spent in the retail industry increased by 0.7% in March compared with the same month last year, but fell by 0.3% compared with February 2015.

Non-seasonally adjusted data show the average weekly spend in retail was £6.9bn compared with £6.7bn in March 2014 and £6.6bn in February 2015.

Online sales fell 0.8% this March from the previous month and accounted for 11.7% of all retail sales. Year-on-year online retail sales climbed 10.3%, the ONS said.