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 261.

    I think the various governments with their inch by inch creaming off of the tax from fuel are maybe starting to realise that the general public have been taxed to saturation on fuel, and now they are getting diminishing returns on their tax take....the cash cow is dying, and by not increasing fuel tax by 3p promises .....barely cause a stir these days

  • rate this

    Comment number 260.

    Well, the greenfaces should be happy now - less fuel burnt = less ooh-so-scary emissions!

    And govt isn't collecting the stupid taxes (duty, vat, and vat on duty) - serves them right for doing what the greenfaces want!

  • rate this

    Comment number 259.

    So all the fuel industry need to do to maintain profitability is to raise prices on a weekly basis then?.
    What a sweet racket!

  • rate this

    Comment number 258.

    Sold Car - £3250
    Moped and a set of waterproofs purchased - £850
    Annual savings on petrol - £1320 (approx)
    Annual savings on parking - £160
    Annual savings on Insurance - £270
    Annual savings on Tax - £112

    If I need a car now I hire one and I'm still unbelievably, financially, better off.

  • rate this

    Comment number 257.

    The cost of fuel had changed my habits. I combine as many actions along a route as I can and I visit friends and family a lot less. To visit my sister now costs over £100 where in 1999 it cost £30. Public transport is even more expensive.

  • rate this

    Comment number 256.

    George Osborne is planning another 3p a litre on fuel in the new year.

    aka a stealth tax to pay off irresponsible bankers

  • rate this

    Comment number 255.

    The Government has tried to blame every other thing for the state the UK is in, bad weather, euro crises and have been increasing fuel costs to make it look like we have inflation read growth. The fact is the whole of the western world runs on oil and there is plenty of it, so we need to stop profiteering of both governments and oil companies.

  • rate this

    Comment number 254.


    Not just me that noticed the weather then lol

  • rate this

    Comment number 253.

    petrol consumption down. is this not good? less petrol bought = less pollution. obviously people are being forced to use alternative means of transport? For the person who can't go to the gym as much - running outside is free!

  • rate this

    Comment number 252.

    "Wet weather may also have played a part."
    What? Oh, of course, when it rains people would rather walk than drive anywhere.
    Clutching at straws to placate the shareholders (are they really that stupid?).

  • rate this

    Comment number 251.

    I am surprised. The traffic doesn't seem to be any better round Manchester and there seem to be ever more 4x4s and other large cars. Although, as my children are no longer at university at different ends of the country, my mileage has dropped from 22000 to 15000 per year so that may be part of it!

  • rate this

    Comment number 250.

    I can see why large numbers of people chose not to travel in the one of the wettest three months on record.

    Its strange the AA can't

  • rate this

    Comment number 249.

    It may just be more anecdotal evidence, but prices have also risen in my local area, and steeply.

    I'm surprised the article didn't point to the end result being a good thing though. I don't enjoy being fleeced at the pump, but a 10% decrease in petrol sales must be doing wonders for air quality and the enviroment.

  • rate this

    Comment number 248.

    The Green movement must be jumping for joy!

    But think about it...this must certainly be the most green government ever! Though by accident,not design of course.

  • rate this

    Comment number 247.

    The best way of surviving nowadays is avoiding taxes to give yourself more income

    Getting rid of the car saved thousands in taxes
    Stopping smoking saved thousands in taxes
    Drinking is down 70%, more taxes gone

    If they tax it, stop doing it

    A 10% drop in fuel sales is MASSIVE, and reflects the real world where business activity is starting to collapse
    Government stats are too rigged to be useful

  • rate this

    Comment number 246.

    I think our prices have gone up, not down.
    However, we are rural and we need the car and van ( for work ), to get about as public transport is non - existent and very expensive. I know by the time we finish paying for fuel and food, we have no spare cash, but I'd have even less if I used a taxi, ( we have no other public transport available ).

  • rate this

    Comment number 245.

    I'm not sure what planet the author is living on, but clearly it's not this one: Prices aren't dropping. And even if they are dipping every now and again, the overall cost is far higher than it was only two years ago. For no reason.
    Fuel prices are ridiculous, and the cost manages to drive my own wages under minimum wage. I'd be financially better off serving fries at a KFC within walking distance

  • rate this

    Comment number 244.

    I agree, lots of positives for the reduction in fuel use. BUT, let's not kid ourselves that any of this is through a concious 'green' decision. It's because we cannot afford to buy petrol

  • rate this

    Comment number 243.

    Oil is a finite resource and so prices will continue to go up in the long-term. The Government is heavily indebted and the tax on fuel is a major income, so do not expect this to change. People are changing their lifestyles to accomodate the high fuel prices such as shopping via the internet or cycling the short distances. Stop moaning about the costs. My fuel bill is £300 p/m to commute to work.

  • rate this

    Comment number 242.

    I've just handed in the keys to a rented serviced office to work from home. The cost of over £250/month just to get there and back was just not worth it.
    Might I suggest that the government takes a look at the disastrous Corn Laws of the 19c?


Page 38 of 51


More Business stories



  • Two women in  JohanesburgYour pictures

    Readers' photos on the theme of South Africa

  • Worcestershire flagFlying the flag

    Preserving the identities of England's counties

  • Female model's bottom in leopard skin trousers as she walks up the catwalkBum deal

    Why budget buttock ops can be bad for your health

  • The OfficeIn pictures

    Fifty landmark shows from 50 years of BBC Two

  • French luxury Tea House, Mariage Freres display of tea pots Tea for tu

    France falls back in love with tea - but don't expect a British cuppa

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.