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 401.

    Not in my household it hasn't...I still need to drive the 40 mile round trip to work because public transport in my area is unreliable, costly and takes 3 times as long to get me there....

  • rate this

    Comment number 400.

    283. Vivelo

    Why don't people work close to where they live? oh, its because they can earn more money working in a city & live cheaper outside the city.


    Or it could be that there are no jobs close to were they live and they would rather work than claim unemployment benefit.

  • rate this

    Comment number 399.

    75quid to fill my car, i have never filled it due to the fact i cant afford it, the most i put in it is £30, But it is false figures due to the high volume of panic buying in the months before. The price of oil is being manipulated, how can it continue to rise in a worldwide recession were demand is falling, which in turn is driving everything else up, its a con.

  • rate this

    Comment number 398.

    387. chriswiltshire
    Yes, I'll move closer to work. Let me just sell my house, oh wait, I'm in negative equity so can't afford to move, and then there's my wife, who works where we live, so she'll have to commute the same as I do now. Or yes, I'll work from home. No, wait, I'm in a team-based and client-facing job so need to be on-site. I'll get a job closer to home... Oops, where are the jobs?

  • rate this

    Comment number 397.

    Lots of people complaining that they are "having to walk" for short journeys because they can't afford to drive! That's great news! I sympathise that higher petrol prices hit the household budget, but people drive way too much, get out of your damned cars.

  • rate this

    Comment number 396.

    There are more cyclists around which is a good thing, less demand for petrol and less cars on the road.
    I watch my speed and the difference it makes to mileage is surprising.

  • rate this

    Comment number 395.

    This is laughable , of course people will use less if the price just keeps going up and up , why is it other countries ( not all ) have cheaper fuel than us ? oh of course our gov tax us to the hilt for everything not just fuel . they will try to put a green slant on this , Global warming dont you know !!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 394.

    Good! Get on your bike, use your feet and travel less and if you have to travel try and use public transport.

  • rate this

    Comment number 393.


    "I sympathise with anyone struggling to make ends meet. However, fact - relative to income, it is significantly cheaper to run a car than it was 10 years ago"

    I'm sorry but with all due respect that is rubbish.

    Insurance, tax and petrol (and petrol tax) have gone up beyond the rate of inflation and wages have been stagnant. You're living in cloud-cuckoo-land. So no, not "fact".

  • rate this

    Comment number 392.

    I've bought a horse & carriage, looks like where we're headed, so thought better get ahead of the game before everyone else buys up the good uns'

    Problem is the price of oats has rocketed recently and I hear that the Government is thinking of increasing the tax duty on oats to 300%.

    Yesterday I got stopped for speeding and not having a tax disc, so looks like I'll be doing porridge.

  • rate this

    Comment number 391.

    @381, you complain about aircraft because you can see them. They are so fuel efficient these days. Less fuel per person than a car for the same distance, much less.

    What about shipping? Floating cities with swimming pools and malls and cinemas on them. Now that's where the fuel is being eaten. Target shipping. It always seems to escape under the radar and is desperately inefficient.

  • rate this

    Comment number 390.

    I now ride a horse - better company : no tax

  • rate this

    Comment number 389.

    @322: Sshhhh! Don't give them ideas! :)

  • rate this

    Comment number 388.

    To add to my point at 366, one place i work in Essex employs 400 people, 300 are Polish, the Brits earn £12.50 an hour, the Polish £6.19, they are supplied by a Polish agency, thats 300 jobs at £12.50 an hour we are losing in one place, thats £500 a week for each person. most of which goes to Poland, people wonder why this country is on its knees, that money would be spent here if we earned it

  • rate this

    Comment number 387.

    I have to laugh at some of these comments - driving a 100miles to work each way - ever heard of moving closer? OR use current technology called the internet or works intranet - work from home with links to your work and travel in maybe 2 times a week for catchup??? Simple to do you just need to work a little harder on discussing with your boss this idea??

  • rate this

    Comment number 386.

    There are multiple reasons, people downsizing or getting rid of second cars, people getting on their bikes or walking and generally driving less miles and driving more fuel efficient cars including electric powered ones.
    This trend will continue.

  • rate this

    Comment number 385.

    Anyone remember Mr Cameron's promise before the election to introduce a "fuel price equaliser" - if the price of oil went up the tax would be reduced to ease the burden on the motorist.

    Lying *******!

  • rate this

    Comment number 384.

    Good, I thought I could breathe more easily .....

  • rate this

    Comment number 383.

    7 years ago I secured fortnightly access to my children. I drove 448 miles over a weekend picking them up and taking them back. Due to the increase in fuel costs I now see them once a month, sometimes we cant even afford the fuel to do that.

  • rate this

    Comment number 382.

    No lower prices near me, or no thats not quite right, there is but the lower price is £1.42 as opposed to £1.44 for Diesel on two days a week.


Page 31 of 51


More Business stories



Try our new site and tell us what you think. Learn more
Take me there

Copyright © 2015 BBC. 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.