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 461.

    I have sympathy with our UK based hauliers. They pay a higher proportion of fuel duty; H&S/vehicle safety requirements et al than hauliers based in other countries who drive on UK roads without the same costs or restrictions.

  • rate this

    Comment number 460.

    Is it any wonder? The price of fuel hasn't dropped, it's gone up. Partly due to increased oil prices but mostly due to successive governments hiking up fuel duty and then shoving VAT on top of it. People can no longer afford to drive anywhere. What 'our leaders' fail to realise is that high fuel prices lead to a higher cost of living - through the cost of goods and simply getting around

  • rate this

    Comment number 459.

    Thats great news,....less fuel being bought, Did you know that at least three refineries have gone into administration in the UK because they cannot buy enough crude to refine....The BP and the government have done nothing to secure fuel supplies for Britain. Spot market trading and ruthless traders oil companies means north sea oil ends up pretty much anywhere in the world. Keep buying less. !!

  • rate this

    Comment number 458.

    Just like the good old days when the riff raff could not afford cars. Lets keep on ramping the costs up so that only the extremly well paid can afford to run a car. Lots of road pricing as well please. The division of rich and poor needs to be much wider and I am glad to see this government doing all it can to achieve this.

  • rate this

    Comment number 457.

    Donkeys stay fat on fresh air and can work all day, hence their popularity in Third World countries. Lets all get donkeys, ride them to work, hitch them to little carts to go shopping, park them in the streets, keep them in our gardens and really deprive the oil companies and Treasury of their profits.

  • rate this

    Comment number 456.

    Also consider the number of young people who can no longer afford to run a car as their insurance is ridiculous.
    Potential students are now saving their money knowing they have to pay extortionate tuition fees, and not splashing out on a car that mum and dad can't help finance as they struggle to run their own cars.

  • rate this

    Comment number 455.

    I graduated and managed to land myself a pretty decent job. My insurance was £2500 a year (yes, you read that correctly), my fuel was £50 a week, plus tax and MOT. For a 1.1 litre 206.

    I sacked that lot off and I'm back on the bus now. Twice the effort but a quarter of the price.

  • rate this

    Comment number 454.

    Fuel tax is a massive earner for the government they aren't going to let that one go without a massive fight

  • rate this

    Comment number 453.

    Increased fuel prices is one of the many spending nails in the coffin. When I first had children, I dreamt of going out for lunch, just me and him. Last week at the garden centre, same price toastie, but much, much cheaper ingredients. If petrol prices haven't risen, perhaps they are watering it down? - everything else has been cheapened! Have you noticed how the inside of toilet rolls are bigger?

  • rate this

    Comment number 452.

    chriswiltshire......not much good if you do a "proper" job like making something.

  • rate this

    Comment number 451.

    "The AA said the slump was the fault of the fuel industry - which it accused of "trying to squeeze more money out of shrinking customer demand".

    Err, no its isn't... its the 70% tax that the government impose!!

    "strangling the goose that laid the golden egg"

    The government have taxed people off the roads and many people are getting rid of the car completely.. its a self-fulfilling prophecy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 450.

    I only use my car to drive to & from work nowadays. Now I walk everywhere or get the train for long distances.

    Follow the oil price - when it comes down petrol prices fall a little, when it goes up petrol prices go up a lot!

  • rate this

    Comment number 449.

    Remember when we ALL jumped up and down, stomped our feet, proclaimed that we were all getting taken for a ride (excuse the pun) and had a national feeling of being taken to the cleaners . . . and that's when petrol was [only] 74p per ltr !!! It's basic math people,unless we all start robbing banks and post offices we just don't have enough money to live.... as we have ??!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 448.

    The bloated greedy petrol industry is responsible for its own demise. It’s accelerating the research for alternative fuel through its own gluttony. Let’s hope a cheap, viable substitute for petrol is will be on the horizon soon & we can leave those nice, selfless, civilised OPEC countries to stew in their own --- Black Stuff.

  • rate this

    Comment number 447.

    As most of these blogs i only use my car for commuting to work and the odd trip, as the price of fuel has rocketed, we are being effectively taxed to work....

  • rate this

    Comment number 446.

    Is it any surprise given the price of it!!
    It is not only the price of fuel that has to drop...
    Its about time the penny dropped with this government that their polices are just not working..
    Ordinary folk are just not getting wage rises.
    So is it little wonder that the economy is not growing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 445.

    What price drop? My local Morrison's dropped its prices by about 2p a litre for a week or so a while back, then it went back up - and up again! Trouble is, the motorist is a golden goose. Need more money? Raise road tax. Economy suffering? put a few coppers on fuel tax. We are being royally scr****!

  • rate this

    Comment number 444.


    @283. Vivelo

    Quite an ignorant statement, i work in Engineering, i install conveyor systems all over the country, without those conveyors you would not have electricity for starters, no building materials, no cars, plenty of other things could not be done without my trade, so i like many others have no choice but to travel

  • rate this

    Comment number 443.

    Locally petrol prices down only marginally and that is only because the prices were artificially raised in the first place; much like the "SALES" 50% off prices that were displayed for 2 hours.
    Bottom line - fleeced for years when I had no choice, now I have a choice, we have one car, save on petrol and high insurance and maintenance, walk more - much healthier. Freedom pass & pension to come !!

  • rate this

    Comment number 442.

    The cost of OIL may have dropped by 10p per litre, but the cost of petrol / diesel certainly hasn't round here. We're down to one fill up per month now (£62 for the last one!) which is the basic minumum we need, still more expensive than it should be!

    I cycle or walk where I can.

    When are this year's record profits for oil companies going to be announced?


Page 28 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.