Total retail fuel volumes show a continuing trend of decline, PRA chairman Brian Madderson told an audience of forecourt and convenience retailers and suppliers at last week’s Forecourt Forum at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry.

Madderson said he had been working more closely with the Oil & Gas Statistics section at the Department of Energy and Climate Change since mid-2013, when it was discovered that one of the ‘big four’ supermarkets had been incorrectly completing fuel volume return, which meant market share of the supermarkets had been consistently understated.

The latest figures for UK retail fuel volumes (Q1/14) show a year-on-year decrease of 1.4% (123 million litres), with petrol down 4.1% (176m/l) and diesel up by 1.3% (53m/l). Total retail fuel volumes are 8.36bn/l.

The top four supermarkets share increased to 43% (3.60bn/l) but despite deep discounting and low prices, their overall volumes actually dropped by 0.9% - to around 33 million litres down, with petrol accounting for a loss of 4% (76m/l), and diesel up 2.5% (43m/l).

Madderson said commercial fuels (diesel only) reflected the improving economic activity with volumes up by 6.0% (including bunker fuels as well as own storage etc).

“All road fuel, helped by the commercial sector, has shown steady recovery from the recession such that the total for Q1/14 reflected a small increase of 0.1% - the first positive report for some years,” said Madderson.

“Clearly the improving engine performance of both diesel and petrol engines is having an impact on volumes as is the trend to switch to diesel vehicles for better mileage and lower taxation.”

The PRA and the Association of Convenience Stores jointly hosted the event, which featured a varied range of sector-relevant presentations. Speakers included Shane Brennan, ACS public affairs director; David Chairman, Convenience Retailer of the Year 2014; Nick Lloyd, managing director of Symonds Forecourts; David Pitron, offer development manager at BP; and Ramsay MacDonald, retail director at Certas Energy. The event was chaired by Mark Selby - visiting Professor at the University of Surrey and a London School of Economics’ Network Economy Forum member.