Tighter Covid-related restrictions introduced at the end of December helped to push average weekly forecourt fuel sales down to just 51% of the volume prior to the first lockdown in March, according to the latest figures from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

Sales in Great Britain for the week ending January 3 were down 21% on the previous week and in a statement released with its statistics, BEIS said “although the decrease is partly attributable to low sales observed around the festive and New Year period this is being compounded by Covid-related restrictions on travel”.

It added that in previous years the fall in sales over this period has averaged about 5%. It also pointed out that these figures were for the week before the new national lockdown in England, and therefore did not reflect any impact this might have on sales.

Average diesel sales were at 48% and petrol sales were 56% of a typical week before lockdown, with average daily sales per filling station of 4,970 litres of diesel and 4,050 litres of petrol, giving a daily total of 9,020 litres.

In the eight weeks prior to the first lockdown on March 23 average daily sales were 17,690 litres per filling station, with a peak of 20,983 on Friday February 28. After the lockdown they fell rapidly bottoming out at 2,522 litres on Sunday April 12.

From this point they climbed steadily reaching 92% of pre-lockdown levels by the end of September.

The figures from BEIS are based on end of the day snapshots of petrol and diesel sales and stock levels from a sample of around 4,500 filling stations across Great Britain.

However, the fuel volumes are collected primarily from oil companies, supermarkets and large independent filling stations, and this results in higher daily average figures than if all independent volumes were included.