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Petrol sales in the UK continued their steady decline during the first half of this year
Petrol sales in the UK continued their steady decline during the first half of this year, the AA confirms from new government statistics*.
Following a temporary lift in forecourt volumes during the first quarter, caused by panic buying during the tanker drivers’ dispute, the drop in petrol retail sales returned with a vengeance in the second.
Petrol sales between January and March 2012 had reversed a long-term fall, up by 119.8 million litres compared to the same period in 2011. However, between April and June, they crashed 496.8 million litres compared to last year’s second quarter.
This is despite the tanker drivers’ dispute being resolved, pump prices falling away from record highs in mid April and the start of summer motoring.
It was the worst second quarter fall since the credit crunch and the first time since the turmoil of 2008 that fuel stations sold less petrol between April and June than in January to March – substantially.
Retail sales of diesel between April and June reversed a growth trend since 2009, although the size of the drop suggests readjustment in the market after the tanker drivers’ dispute.
The statistics from the Department of Energy and Climate Change show that, overall, more than two billion fewer litres of petrol and diesel were sold on forecourts in the first half of this year compared to the same period in 2008. Between January and June 2008, retail sales of petrol amounted to 11,025.46 million litres and diesel 7,954.17 million litres, a total of 18,979.63 million litres. In the first half of this year, retailers sold 8,758.04 million litres of petrol and 7,946.97 million litres of diesel – a total of 16,705.01 million litres.
Price transparency is the way forward: to ensure and show drivers that they are getting a fair deal at the pump
Edmund King, AA president
“A 10.6% fall in petrol sales this past quarter is a huge drop. Whilst 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,” says Edmund King, the AA’s president
Ever-increasing prices in recent years have sent petrol sales into steady decline and the panic buying at the end of March may have brought forward sales in early April.
Wet weather may also have played a part. However, petrol prices slumped more than 10p a litre (from the record in mid April (142.48p) to the low-point at the end of June (131.19p)) and UK drivers began to travel further with lighter evenings, bank holidays and the Queen’s diamond jubilee celebrations.
A fall of 2.27 billion litres in UK fuel sales over the first six months of this year compared to the same period in 2008 has got to bring some sense of reality to the fuel market and 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.
(3 October 2012)
* From Energy Trends September 2012, Department of Energy and Climate Change