Independents beat the supermarkets by selling diesel for less than a pound per litre two weeks before the UK’s four supermarket giants followed their lead. Independent supermarket and fuel retailer Jempson’s was one of the first to dip below £1 per litre, cutting diesel to 99.7ppl on December 17. The Peasmarsh, East Sussex-based company has also been selling unleaded petrol at 99.9ppl. Director Stephen Jempson said: "Volumes have been huge."

And on December 21, Velautham Sarveswaran, who runs three Harvest-branded sites cut prices at his sites in Birmingham, Redditch and Walsall sites to 99.7ppl for unleaded petrol and diesel.

Morrisons was the first of the big four to make the move, cutting diesel to 99.7ppl from 3pm on Sunday January 3. Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury’s followed on January 4.

Meanwhile, the RAC slammed the big four supermarkets’ fuel pricing strategy, accusing them of funding headline-grabbing price cuts in unleaded petrol before Christmas by taking a bigger margin from their diesel customers. Simon Williams, RAC fuel spokesman said: "Retailers have established a pretty good track record of passing on wholesale cost-savings at the pump since the price of oil fell in June 2014. But not cutting the price of diesel before Christmas has undermined that."