Transport Secretary Grant Shapps’ message to consumers to boycott “greedy petrol stations” who refuse to pass on the recent fuel duty cut has been met with derision by fuel retailers.
Forecourt Trader spoke to retailers who had passed on the cut in duty. Tim Garner, director of The Garner Group, said they dropped their price at 5pm on the day of the announcement even though they still had 80,000 litres of old stock at the old price.
“We dropped our price in line with the government’s duty drop but the issue is that the oil price is so volatile at the moment that the duty drop has not had much of an impact. Unfortunately, the public don’t follow the oil pricing and therefore, assume we are not dropping our prices.”
It was a similar story from Rob Exelby, managing director of Exelby Services: “As soon as the duty was cut Brent crude went up so it immediately negated the cut. We’re on daily spot prices; it makes such a difference if you’re on weekly prices where you can play the market a bit more. The variance in prices near us is huge – easily plus or minus 10ppl. We’re making a 3ppl margin - the lowest margin since 2016.”
Tim says that as a result of high prices, sales have definitely dropped off for what would be usual for this time of year. As for attitudes towards the prices, he says the trouble is that people don’t understand the market: “People are passionate about the prices they are having to pay for fuel and they do vent on social media and sometimes to our staff. They are not abusive but they do like to share their views. But our staff are very pragmatic about the whole thing.
“Many of our customers don’t travel out of our trading area and so they think it is just us who are charging a lot for fuel. If they travelled further they would see it’s not just us.”
Ziheed Mohammed, site manager of Woodman Forecourts in Leeds, agreed that customers don’t understand why fuel is so expensive. “Customers look at the pounds not the litres. They will just put in £20 like they have always done, then wonder why it is not giving them the miles it used to. They obviously have to come in more often and don’t like that.
“Very few understand how the supply chain works and the breakdown in price - we do try and explain it. Our staff are very good at talking to our customers about it, explaining that it is not down to us.”