19 January 2017
Pumps across the South East and rural areas have seen the cost of petrol jump above 120p a litre this week.
The last time drivers faced prices this high was in December 2014, according to the AA Fuel Price Report for mid January.
Historically, it was petrol peaking at 119.7p a litre in July 2008 that helped to break the back of driving family finances ahead of the credit crunch later that year.
Across the UK, petrol started this week averaging 119.48p and diesel 121.98p a litre - up nearly 4.5p since mid December (petrol 115.09p / diesel 117.54p) and adding £2.48 to a tank of fuel. A family with two petrol cars has seen its monthly fuel bill shoot up by £9 since just before Christmas.
A year ago, petrol and diesel were falling to below 102p, with both below £1 a litre at supermarkets. Yesterday, petrol across the UK had risen further to 119.55p and 122.00p for diesel.
In the South East, petrol averaged 120.3p on Monday, having been 119.3p last week and 115.8p a month ago. Averaging 119.9p a litre, London is on the verge of joining the South East at this critical milestone, as is Essex and East Anglia with petrol typically 119.8p a litre.
Drivers in rural areas, such as the New Forest, have been facing up to petrol at 119.9p a litre or higher for at least a fortnight. Out on the road, it costs as much as 133.9p at motorway service areas.
Comparing prices across retailer brands, non-supermarket forecourts average 120.15p a litre for petrol compared to 116.88p at supermarkets, and 122.75p versus 119.25p for diesel.
However, part of the reason for the rapid price increase has been supermarket prices catching up with their rivals’. A month ago, the price gap between supermarkets and non-supermarkets was around 4.5p a litre for both petrol and diesel. This month, it has shrunk by a penny to 3.3p for petrol and 3.5p for diesel.
Feeling like 2008 all over again?
“No doubt, if someone had predicted this time last year that petrol was going to be nearly 18p a litre more expensive and diesel 20p a litre dearer, they would have been branded scaremongers. Yet, here we are,” says Edmund King, the AA’s president.
If someone had predicted this time last year that petrol was going to be nearly 18p/litre more expensive and diesel 20p/litre dearer, they would have been branded scaremongers
“Typically, a car gets filled up twice a month and, with most fuel tanks holding 55 litres, the monthly fuel bill for just one car has gone up £19.80 in a year. Among AA members, 28% of them spend a set amount on fuel when they go to the fuel station, rising to 40% among the less well-off.
“It means the spectre of drivers cutting back on entertainment, eating out, and even grocery spending to afford to drive to work is once again raising its ugly head. In that respect, it’s beginning to feel like 2008 all over again.”