The big four supermarkets have been hit hardest by the falling demand for petrol, according to analysis of new government figures by the AA.
Despite the lowest prices for three years, demand for petrol from October to December last year fell 4.2% compared with the same period in 2012, but the big four supermarkets were hit hardest with a 4.9% reduction while other retailers saw sales fall 3.6%.
Overall, petrol demand in 2013 fell by more than 850 million litres, equivalent to 19 days consumption.
However, sales of diesel at Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrison’s and Asda fared better than on non-supermarket forecourts, with a 2.8% boost in the final quarter of last year as opposed to a 1.5% increase at non-supermarket fuel stations.
Overall, UK diesel demand from October to December rose 2.0%, helped by a 2.0% rise in commercial sales.
For the whole of 2013, a 4.3% boost to supermarket sales of diesel contributed most to an overall 1.8% increase in UK diesel sales compared with the year before. This added more than 450 million litres to demand, equivalent of an extra week’s consumption.
Edmund King, president of the AA, commented: “From September to November, the pump price of petrol fell from a late summer peak 138.38ppl to a low of 130.13ppl, before hovering around the 131ppl level for the rest of the year. In 2012, petrol sales recovered when prices fell – but not in 2013.
“We think that, having learnt to use car travel and fuel consumption as a budgetary lever, UK families reacted accordingly when faced with the threat of a 10% rise in domestic energy costs. In December, when we gauged how 17,629 AA members would respond to a power cost surge, 35% said that cutting back on car use was their way to balance spending.”