Petrol prices have continued to spiral upwards in the past week since hitting a record high last week of 121.76.
The latest retail petrol data from Catalist shows the average daily price for unleaded is £122.50 – and it’s going to continue rising, according to Brian Madderson, chairman of RMI Petrol, who is calling on the government to call off further fuel duty increases as they are doing irreparable damage to the oil industry and the fuel retailing outlets in the UK.
"Today’s average petrol price of 122.50ppl, which will continue to inch even higher in the lead up to Christmas, is a grave and serious concern for independent petrol retailers and struggling motorists.
"The independent petrol retailers are most at risk, with the threat of closure looming, as they struggle to sell to motorists unable to afford to travel and "striking back".
"This year has been a distressing year for the sector with several hundred business closures as a result of reduced sales and unsustainable margins - bank support for the low turnover rural site will be a major challenge going into the New Year. With petrol prices soaring in January on the back of yet more penal tax hikes from the Government, this closure trend looks set to continue through 2011."
Madderson said RMIP had been predicting the price rises all year, for two reasons: "During the last fuel price spike in 2008, when oil prices reached $140 a barrel, the average barrel price over that year was $90, which is similar to the current prices," he explained.
“Since 2008 the pound/dollar exchange rate has got markedly worse. We only now get $1.50 – we used to get $2, and that has put up the price of oil coming into the UK by one third.
“If we then take what the government has done – Labour, and now the Coalition – they have relentlessly pursued a taxation policy against the motorist, against the businessman, against the road fuel user.
“Duty has gone up by 10ppl in the past two years, then there was 1ppl on for biofuels under the Road Transport Fuels Obligation which came in on April 1; and VAT went up from 15% to 17.5% in January this year.
"Fuel duty will rise by 1ppl on January 1, and VAT will go up again on January 4, to 20%. Then there will be a further duty rise in April. Four major oil companies have announced that they are going to sell up and leave the UK: Chevron, Murco, Total – and even Shell is looking to sell its Stanlow refinery. Would they be planning to sell up if they were making enough money?
"Independent retailers are struggling – volumes are down and margins are tighter than ever and that is causing a year-on-year reduction in the number of forecourts in the UK of around 500."
Meanwhile further heavy snowfalls are expected to bring more chaos to the roads, and potentially affect fuel supplies. Madderson is advising that retailers keep stocked up: "Retailers should keep their tanks as full as they can afford them to be as we head into the next wintry spell."