Supermarkets stung drivers with above-average fuel price hikes in December


Supermarkets accused of stinging drivers with above-average fuel price hikes in December

  • The wholesale price of petrol and diesel rose by 1p-a-litre in December
  • However, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Tesco increased fuel prices by 3p per litre
  • Only Asda matched the wholesale increase and was by far the cheapest to fill up
  • RAC said retailers were hiking prices likely as a means of protecting themselves for a third lockdown in the new year 

Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Tesco have been accused of increasing fuel prices well above their cost over the festive period.

The RAC said the monthly wholesale price increase for petrol and diesel in Decmeber was just 1p per litre, but the three major supermarket retailers had hiked their pump prices by 3p-a-litre over the same period.

Only Asda matched the 1p-a-litre wholesale increase in December, with the RAC saying the actions of the other big retailers was ‘very disappointing’ and suggested they had protected themselves in case of another lockdown in the new year.

Sainsbury's, Morrisons and Tesco were accused of pushing their petrol and diesel prices higher in December in a bid to protect themselves from a fall in fuel demand from a lockdown

Sainsbury’s, Morrisons and Tesco were accused of pushing their petrol and diesel prices higher in December in a bid to protect themselves from a fall in fuel demand from a lockdown

The hike by the three supermarkets pushed the average petrol price in December up by 2p-a-litre from 114.4p to 116.4p, with diesel going up from 117.7p to 120p.

With Asda only marginally increasing its pump charges, it was considerably cheaper than rivals last month. 

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It was selling unleaded for 110.1p-a-litre and charged 113.4p for diesel, RAC Fuel Watch’s latest report shows.

Despite most of the big grocers pushing their fuel prices higher than wholesale increases, filling up at a supermarket was still cheaper than using a non-supermarket forecourt – at 4p-a-litre less expensive for petrol and 4.5p less for diesel. 

‘Looking at wholesale prices from two weeks ago – the time it takes for all retailers to replenish their stock, the RAC believes drivers should in fact be paying around 113p for petrol and 118p for diesel,’ the motoring organisation said.

The RAC said the monthly wholesale price increase was just 1p per litre , but the three major supermarkets - excluding Asda - hiked their pump prices by 3p-a-litre over the same period

The RAC said the monthly wholesale price increase was just 1p per litre , but the three major supermarkets – excluding Asda – hiked their pump prices by 3p-a-litre over the same period

The hike by the three supermarkets pushed the average petrol price in December up by 2p-a-litre from 114.4p to 116.4p, with diesel going up from 117.7p to 120p

The hike by the three supermarkets pushed the average petrol price in December up by 2p-a-litre from 114.4p to 116.4p, with diesel going up from 117.7p to 120p

Experts at the RAC said they had a ‘definite feeling’ that supermarket retailers had hiked prices in the prospect of further coronavirus restrictions, which came to fruition with the latest national lockdown imposed this week.

FUEL PRICE RISE BY REGION IN DECEMBER (RAC)
REGION 01/12/20 30/12/20 CHANGE
Petrol      
East 114.36 116.94 2.58
East Midlands 114.22 116.37 2.15
London 115.5 117.48 1.98
North East 113.24 115.3 2.06
North West 114.44 116.13 1.69
Northern Ireland 110.76 112.62 1.86
Scotland 114.15 115.89 1.74
South East 115.24 117.45 2.21
South West 114.25 116.55 2.3
Wales 113.26 115.31 2.05
West Midlands 114.2 116.34 2.14
Y’shire & Humber 113.78 116.03 2.25
UK average 114.39 116.46 2.07
Diesel
East 118.36 120.84 2.48
East Midlands 117.68 120.07 2.39
London 118.27 120.43 2.16
North East 116.63 119 2.37
North West 117.49 119.47 1.98
Northern Ireland 113.36 115.45 2.09
Scotland 117.43 119.77 2.34
South East 118.9 121.32 2.42
South West 117.53 120.2 2.67
Wales 116.84 119.43 2.59
West Midlands 117.78 119.9 2.12
Y’shire & Humber  117.09 119.6 2.51
UK Average 117.72 120 2.28

‘It’s very disappointing,’ said fuel spokesman Simon Williams.

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‘While wholesale prices went up very slightly in December our data shows there should be scope to lower forecourt prices rather than put them up. 

‘Retailers will no doubt argue that the pandemic is leading to drivers filling up far less so their ‘per litre’ profits are considerably down, and Monday’s announcement of another lockdown will be treated as justification for their decision not to pass savings on at the pumps. 

‘Unfortunately, those who still need to fill up regularly are having to pay more than they should be as, by our calculations, both fuels should actually come down by 3p-a-litre in the next fortnight.’ 

During December, drivers in the East saw the price of petrol and diesel rise the most – by 2.58p-a-litre for unleaded and 2.48p for diesel.

The North West saw the smallest average increase in fuel prices, while London and the South East were the most expensive regions to fill up at forecourts last month. 

Despite Mr Williams hoping for fuel prices to fall in the next fortnight, any potential cost savings to motorists will come at a time when many people are not using their cars.

And he warned that, when the third Covid lockdown is eventually lifted and drivers return to the roads, fuel prices will inevitably begin to rise again. 

‘A year ago, a litre of unleaded set back drivers 127p and diesel 132p, which is 10p and 12p more expensive than today,’ he said.

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