The latest Retail Marketing Survey, conducted by the Energy Institute (EI) and published as a supplement to the EI’s April issue of Petroleum Review, provides more evidence that the trend for forecourt closures has flattened out.

The total number of forecourts in the UK at the close of 2014 was 8,609, broadly in line with the 2013 figure of 8,611. This follows a 20-year reduction forecourts numbers, almost halving the total that were in existence in 1994.

Road fuel sales in 2014 saw a 1.77% rise from 36mn tonnes to reach 36.64mn tonnes, with diesel sales once again outperforming petrol. Retail petrol sales remained fairly stable at 13mn tonnes by year end (from 12.99mn tonnes at the close of 2013), while diesel sales rose to 15.16mn tonnes (up from 14.09mn tonnes). Meanwhile, the total number of cars on the road rose 1.95% to a record-breaking 35.89mn.

The annual Retail Marketing Survey provides a statistical overview of the UK forecourt market. Data is broken down by company, region and forecourt facilities. This year’s report is based on statistics relating to end-2014 and does not reflect changes since that date. These figures are collected from an EI survey with fuel retailers and are cross-checked with numbers from market analyst Experian Catalist.

Key findings of the survey show:

• There were 8,609 operational filling stations in the UK at end-December 2014.

• Retail petrol sales remained fairly stable at 13mn tonnes by the close of 2014 – from 12.99mn at end-2013.

• Retail diesel sales totalled 15.16mn tonnes by year-end – up from 14.09mn tonnes a year earlier.

• Total 2014 road fuel sales rose slightly to 36.64mn tonnes – up from 36mn tonnes in 2013.

• By the close of 2014, unleaded petrol prices had averaged 128.18 p/l (versus 134.88 p/l in 2013); while diesel prices closed the year at an average price of 133.82 p/l (versus 140.74 p/l).

• Registered UK vehicles once again broke records, rising from 35.21mn in 2014 to reach 35.89mn by end-2014, with each forecourt supplying an average of 4,170 vehicles.

• Site number breakdown by fuel retail brand in 2014 (2013 figures in brackets):

• BP led the forecourt branding field, topping the listing with 1,163 outlets (1,174)

• Shell secured second place, with 1,019 branded sites (1,016)

• Esso was close behind, in third position, with 1,012 branded forecourts (1,003)

• Texaco was ranked fourth, with 773 outlets (814)

• Gulf is fifth, with 508 branded service stations (409)

• The supermarket sector accounts for just over 43% of total UK fuel sales:

• Tesco – 504 sites (498)

• Morrisons – 332 (326)

• Sainsbury’s – 298 (289)

The 2015 Retail Marketing Survey is available, priced £100, from the Energy Institute.