19 August 2017
Petrol and diesel pump prices vary by as much as 24p/litre or more than £13 a tank on the UK’s busier roads this week – from the 107.7p/litre at Tamworth supermarkets on Monday to the 131.9p/litre at a motorway service area.
The latest AA Fuel Price Report shows that, across the board, average UK pump prices are back to where they were at the beginning of June, wiping out the gains of two supermarket price wars that month.
Petrol averages 116.53p/litre across the UK, up from 114.66p a month ago, while diesel averages 117.44p, compared to 115.42p in mid July.
In mid June, just before the first of two quick-fire supermarket pump price skirmishes that month, petrol had averaged 116.36p and diesel 117.34p/litre.
In between, petrol fell to 114.33p and diesel 115.02p/litre at the start of July.
Supermarkets have so far managed to maintain, on average, a 4p price gap between them and their non-supermarket rivals, although higher wholesale costs from oil’s $46.5 to $52-a-barrel rise since July are still filtering through.
The standout feature is the anomalous pump price range across the country on busy roads, from 107.7p/litre at supermarkets in Tamworth to the 117.9p/litre at the Liphook superstore in Hampshire. On the motorways, petrol ranges from 131.9p to 116.9p.
By brand, although the supermarkets on average still match each other more closely than they used to, Jet stands out as the retailer undercutting the non-supermarket sector by 1p a litre on petrol and 2p on diesel.
“In the past, a 24p-a-litre price gap between retailers in different parts of the country is what we might have expected between a supermarket serving hundreds of car a day and a rural station refuelling a dozen or so. But this is between retailers with tens of thousands of cars passing by every day,” says Edmund King, the AA’s president.
“The most expensive is a motorway service area where most non-business drivers will fill up only if they have to and the cheapest is a sizeable town with two supermarkets locked in a fierce battle for local supremacy.
The most expensive is a motorway service area where most non-business drivers will fill up only if they have to, and the cheapest is a sizeable town with two supermarkets locked in a fierce battle
“With the latter, it gives hope that when wholesale costs start to head down again, spurred on by US shale oil production hitting record levels and the end of the American motoring season, supermarkets will be up for a fifth price war of the year.
“On motorways, though, ridiculously high pump prices tar the image of all retailers on the network, which is clearly not the case for all – and could be remedied with Continental-style pump price transparency.”
National and regional
Across the UK, at 115.5 a litre, Northern Ireland is the only area to hold its average petrol price below the 116p mark. Its diesel averages 116.2p a litre, also making it the only part of the country remaining below 117p.
At the other end of the scale, the South East is the only region with petrol averaging 117.0p a litre and 118.0p a litre for diesel.