By Jonathan Davies

The volume of retail sales in the UK fell 0.5% between February and March, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

But, compared with March 2014, sales were up 4.2% marking the 24th consecutive month of growth. It is the longest period of annual growth since May 2008 when there had been 31 consecutive months.

The ONS said that the decline seen between February and March was due to a surprise, and particularly large, 6.2% fall in petrol and diesel sales.

Average store prices (excluding petrol) fell 3.1% on March 2014, the ninth consecutive month of decline.

Online sales fell by 0.8% from February, but grew by 10.3% compared with March 2014. Online accounted for 11.7% of all retail sales in March.