Spring petrol sales decline despite lower forecourt prices

Petrol Petrol prices fell by more than 10p per litre in April to 131.19p at the end of June

Related Stories

Nearly half a billion fewer litres of petrol and diesel were sold between April and June than during the same period last year, says the Department of Energy and Climate Change.

The reduction came despite a fall in fuel prices during the period.

It came after sales rose at the start of the year when the threat of a tanker drivers' strike saw panic buying.

Motoring organisation the AA said price rises since 2008 have contributed to a "steady decline" in the overall market.

The government figures show that more than 2 billion fewer litres of petrol and diesel were sold compared with the same period in 2008, before the recession.

In the first half of this year, a total of 16.7 billion litres of fuel was sold on forecourts in the UK.

This compares with total sales of nearly 19 billion litres between January and June 2008.

'Fair deal'

In the first three months of this year, meanwhile, there was a rise in petrol sales of almost 120 million litres compared with the same period in 2011.

Demand for fuel shot up at the end of March after ministers urged people to stock up amid threats of a strike by tanker drivers.

But the government rejected claims by retailers their advice had caused panic buying.

Petrol Retailers Association chairman Brian Madderson told BBC Radio 5 liveBreakfast that, during a week of "government-inspired panic buying", sales of petrol "got up to over a 170% of its normal rate".

Start Quote

Price transparency is the way forward - to ensure and show drivers that they are getting a fair deal at the pump”

End Quote Edmund King, AA

"So by the end of March everybody with a car had their tanks full of petrol and, of course, after that, in the second quarter, sales fell off the cliff."

The AA blamed the slump on the fuel industry for "trying to squeeze more money out of shrinking customer demand".

Its president Edmund King acknowledged that panic buying - as well as wet weather - may have played a part in the April-June fall.

"However, petrol prices slumped more than 10p a litre - from the record of 142.48p a litre in mid-April to the low-point of 131.19p at the end of June - and UK drivers began to travel further with lighter evenings, bank holidays and the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations," he said.

He added: "While we welcome the fact that new cars have become more fuel-efficient, this goes nowhere near to accounting for the crash in demand over the past three months, and the past five years."

He said the fall in sales since 2008 had to "bring some sense of reality to the fuel market and the government".

"However, we have seen the fuel industry trying to squeeze more money out of shrinking customer demand, as was the case when wholesale diesel was cheaper than petrol in early spring but drivers and businesses were forced to pay 5p a litre more.

"Price transparency is the way forward - to ensure and show drivers that they are getting a fair deal at the pump."

Meanwhile, the AA's head of motoring Paul Watters warned that ministers may have to look elsewhere to make up lost tax revenues.

"We've heard talk of the government finding a real struggle in getting the revenues in that it was expecting and this dramatic drop won't help them one iota," he told BBC Radio 5 live.

"It will make them a bit desperate, perhaps looking towards road pricing again or looking towards squeezing more out of the tax disc that we all pay for."

A spokesman for the Department of Transport has yet to respond to a request for a comment.


More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 161.

    So the wettest May and June on record had nothing at all to do with it then, amazes me the amount of spin people believe, wheres the story showing the massive rise in the use of public transport for that period ? doesn't exist, why ? because its cheaper to drive than it is to get the bus

  • rate this

    Comment number 160.

    A while ago there was a campaign against "Rip-off Britain". It didn't work of course. How could it when, as with fuel tax etc, the biggest rippers-off were the government.

  • rate this

    Comment number 159.

    Why is that a surprise ?
    People have less cash left in their pockets so non existential go out the window.

  • rate this

    Comment number 158.

    Take the family into town to go shopping, one pound per mile per person each way, total £24. Stand in draughty bus shelters, wait ages for the one bus every three hours, walk miles to the bus station and back home carrying bags.

    Drive my 4x4, air-conditioned comfort, listen to the stereo, have an insulated beaker with coffee in the dash holder, park at the supermarket, cost £6,

    A no brainer.

  • rate this

    Comment number 157.

    I would like the govt or Trading Standards to investigate why some petrol companies charge 6p a litre MORE for fuel. There is a petrol station near me that charges 6p a litre more than another one 3 miles away. Obviously I have to be in that area to fill up. If you fill up twice a week with 40 litres you are paying £62.40 - over a tank's worth.

  • rate this

    Comment number 156.

    lower forecourt prices!

    lol-are they serious?

    so can we expect a huge tax increase to make up the shortfall then.

    because one thing we can guarantee is the government will make the most money on this at our expense.

  • rate this

    Comment number 155.

    Who needs private toll roads? Just tax "the plebs" off the roads instead.

  • rate this

    Comment number 154.

    You need to look at the total cost, not just the petrol."

    Yes. Mileage-related costs also include depreciation, servicing, petrol, tyres. Another 50p a mile for me, I calculate.

  • rate this

    Comment number 153.

    Maybe those sales fell because tens of thousands of people were made redundant earlier in the year, therefore don't use their cars as much? This Government's inability to realise that its actions cause reactions is terrifying.

  • rate this

    Comment number 152.

    The variation is prices amazes me and the cheapest local pumps have long queues.

    Think there was an Olympic effect as london roads were very quiet and the benefit of a decent travel incentive showed how habits can be changed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 151.

    Reading the comments I don't see anyone mentioning the huge increase in cyclists and L plated motorcycles (some of which can do 100 mpg!). People are making compromise on comfort so they can save money on fuel. Even I decided to ditch my 2L petrol car for a motorcycle. I save around £90 a month on my 26 mile daily commute.

  • rate this

    Comment number 150.

    Maybe this may encourage some households to have less cars than people? It might even lead to children being able to walk safely down pavements without being obstructed by a metal monster parked by an ignorant motorist.

  • rate this

    Comment number 149.

    If in any other walk of life, a person group or body imposed an extremely high monetary levy on a product on every supplier across a region, that would be called EXTORTION.

    Yes, there is oil price rigging going on via oil companies and the oil markets, but the price of petrol in the USA is 67p a litre even with the oil companies profiteering.

  • rate this

    Comment number 148.

    It's amazing how so many "normal" people can see the implications of raising taxes. Next will be road tolls to make up for the shortfall in car tax and fuel duty which will lead to more people watching the pennies.

    Investment in job creation and lower taxes = more people working and spending = more tax revenue and happier people = better society

  • rate this

    Comment number 147.

    I think this trend will continue.....petrol is now a luxury, well it is certainly taxed like one.

  • rate this

    Comment number 146.

    Perhaps the weather was so bl**dy awful we didn't want to drive anywhere?

  • rate this

    Comment number 145.

    63. Jon
    The short bus trip into town is nearly £4, i doubt driving my car would cost £1.
    You must have a magic car then. As well as petrol, mine has to be insured, taxed, MOT'd, serviced, have the tyres replaced and have repairs as well. You need to look at the total cost, not just the petrol.

  • rate this

    Comment number 144.

    I'd have liked to go on holiday to Scotland, but if it's going to cost £100 in fuel just to get there and back I've come to Oxfordshire instead.
    So the Scottish economy and the Treasury have both lost out.

  • rate this

    Comment number 143.

    Whats that deafening silence... is it the sound of the Tory fuel protesters of a few years ago NOT actually saying anything about this... funny that...perhaps they are out on their bikes looking for work.

  • rate this

    Comment number 142.

    Allegedly prices went down - don't recall seeing unleaded anywhere near £131.9 per litre near us. Old story- crude price goes up & consumers see the change immediately, it goes down - we get sold the story-'we had to pay more for it at the time so can't pass the savings on'. For the planet good, for an ailing economy not good. It really isn't rocket science - we are voting with our feet!


Page 43 of 51


More Business stories



BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.