Petrol prices: RAC spokesperson reacts to criticism from The AA
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Petrol has plunged more than 30p a litre since its record high in the summer to a pump average of less than 160p a litre. Diesel on the other hand has fallen less than half that amount, according to the AA, as motorists continue to struggle with fuel prices. Experts have called on drivers to shop at smaller, independent forecourts in hopes of finding cheaper prices.
Since oil caught a cold from Covid disruption in China, falling from above $98 a barrel in early November to around $85 this week, and with most strikes at French refineries ended, both petrol and diesel wholesale costs have dropped more than 15p a litre.
That left petrol averaging 159.88p a litre on Wednesday, down 31.65p compared to July’s record of 191.53p a litre.
Regardless of recent falls, were it not for the 5p fuel duty cut (6p with VAT) petrol would still be only around a penny below its 167.30p average on the day before the Chancellor took action to relieve the burden on drivers and businesses.
All the same, petrol car owners are enjoying a saving of around £17.40 a tank as opposed to what they were paying in the summer (£105.34 versus £87.93).
Yesterday, diesel fell to a pump average of 183.87p a litre, down 15.2p compared to July’s record of 199.07p a litre.
However, as the wholesale cost chart indicates, the price gap with petrol should be much less than the enduring 24p a litre that has infuriated diesel users this autumn.
That is partly explained by the pump-price postcode lottery that has plagued the UK for so long and gone into overdrive since the pandemic.
Examples of what fuel retailers are capable of charging for petrol are: 149.9p in Birmingham, 152.9p in Leeds and 149.9p in Pembrokeshire.
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Luke Bosdet, the AA’s spokesperson on fuel prices, commented on the new data and the falling prices, saying issues remain.
He said: “The agility of competitive independent forecourts in reflecting plummeting wholesale costs and stealing a march on the supermarkets has been the story of UK pump prices since the summer.
“Eventually, the superstores will start to catch up but the days of them calling the shots on lower pump prices have largely gone.
“However, the big problem remains locating the cheaper fuel stations if they are not local to drivers.
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“The value of Northern Ireland’s Fuel Price Checker in providing that transparency is underlined by the 6.5p difference in the average price of diesel there (178.26p on Monday) compared to the UK average (184.79p on the same day).”
Last month, membership-only retailer Costco reacted to the falling wholesale market prices by slashing its petrol by 8p per litre.
At the time, this was 12p less than the average price of a litre at a supermarket and 14p lower than the UK average, which was 161.9p.
The retailer has 19 forecourts across the UK including Birmingham, Edinburgh, Liverpool, Manchester and Southampton.
Simon Williams, fuel spokesperson for the RAC, said the move by Costco to cut prices demonstrates how overpriced fuel is elsewhere.
He added: “Drivers who aren’t fortunate enough to be members of Costco will no doubt be horrified to see just how cheaply fuel can be sold.
“It’s no wonder you often see long queues for fuel at Costco. In fact, they recently had to change the queuing system at their Bristol forecourt to cope with the number of people wanting to fill up.”
Experts have consistently called for drivers to shop around, with smaller, independent forecourts usually offering more competitive prices than supermarkets.
Asda has traditionally been the most aggressive supermarket on fuel prices, but while it’s still the cheapest of the big four, it seems far less keen to lower prices in a falling wholesale market than it has been in the past.
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