Supermarkets lose 'appetite' to cut fuel prices amid surge in abuse

Supermarket giants have lost their ‘appetite’ to cut fuel prices, drivers warned – as retailers report surge in verbal abuse towards forecourt staff

  • Supermarkets pocketing the difference as wholesale petrol prices falls  
  • Record prices are driving a wave of verbal abuse hitting forecourt workers
  • RAC was critical of retailers for not ‘passing on some of the savings’
  • Litre of petrol reached a new high of 191.4p on Thursday, diesel rose to 199.1p 

Supermarkets have stopped cutting fuel prices to entice customers to their forecourts in spite of a dip in wholesale costs, motorists have been warned.

Figures from data firm Experian show that the big four supermarkets have not passed on their savings to their customers even as the cost of living crisis bites.

Latest numbers show that the average price of a litre of petrol at UK forecourts reached a new high of 191.4p on Thursday, while diesel rose to 199.1p. 

The unprecedentedly sky high prices have driven a wave of verbal abuse towards forecourt staff by angry drivers, retailers have reported. 

RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams said the rise in the price of petrol illustrates ‘the biggest retailers’ resistance to reduce their pump prices in line with the lower wholesale cost of unleaded’.

He went on: ‘Rather than passing on some of the savings they are benefiting from, they are clearly banking on the wholesale market moving up again which is disappointing for drivers who are desperate to see an end to ever-rising prices.

‘Sadly, there no longer seems to be any appetite among the big four supermarkets to drive customers into their stores with lower pump prices.

Petrol prices reached record figures this week despite a fall in the wholesale price of petrol. The wholesale price includes product cost and fuel duty. The retail price includes product cost, fuel duty, delivery and distribution, retail margin (forecourt costs and retailer’s profit) and VAT. 

Motorists can expect to pay in the region of 191p per litre according to data from the AA

‘We question whether we will ever see much competition between supermarkets over fuel again, let alone a so-called ‘price war”.

The wholesale price includes product cost and fuel duty. The retail price includes product cost, fuel duty, delivery and distribution, retail margin (forecourt costs and retailer’s profit) and VAT. 

Petrol retailers have come in for sharp criticism for a ‘classic example of rocket and feather pricing’, with pump prices not mirroring wholesale costs.

The concept of rocket and feather pricing for fuel involves retailers quickly hiking pump prices when the cost of oil rises, but being slow to pass on the benefits of decreases in oil prices. 

The RAC claimed significant reductions in wholesale costs for petrol mean companies have a ‘clear opportunity’ to stop continuously hiking pump prices. 

And drivers across Britain have been letting front line workers know about their feelings towards the retailers’ unwarranted price hiking.

Jack Cousens, head of roads policy at the AA, said: ‘With Wimbledon well under way, drivers may be forgiven for borrowing the iconic rant from John McEnroe as they pull up to the pump – ‘You cannot be serious!’.

Diesel car owners can expect to pay almost £2 a litre when they go to fill up at one of the big four supermarkets

‘However, with some reports of aggressive behaviour towards forecourt staff, we urge people to channel the zen-like mentality of Roger Federer when refuelling and not abuse staff.

‘It is not their fault, which is why the AA is directly challenging the Government, retailers and the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to find a quick and effective solution.’

Asked today if another fuel duty cut could be on the cards, a spokesman for Boris Johnson highlighted the 5p cut in March ‘which we’ve repeatedly called on all retailers to pass on to consumers’.

Pressed on the subject he added: ‘Well, as the Chancellor said before, we obviously keep the support we provide to the public under review. And that obviously remains the case.’

The Competition and Markets Authority launched a ‘short and focused review’ of fuel prices earlier this month after a request by Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng.

Prices at UK forecourts reached a new high of 191.4p on Thursday, while diesel rose to 199.1p, the latest 24-hour period figures are available for. Pictured: BP Petrol station at Reading Services this week

A 5p per litre reduction in fuel duty implemented by the Treasury in March has not stopped prices from soaring.

Retailers hit back at accustions of ‘rocket and feather pricing’, claiming to have been ‘unfairly scapegoated’ for the price rises and arguing that the 5p saving had been passed on. 

Gordon Balmer, executive director of the Petrol Retailers Association, commented: ‘The briefings provided by Government spokespeople to the media indicate that ministers do not understand how fuel prices are set. 

‘We have contacted the secretary of state for business on multiple occasions offering to meet and explain fuel pricing. However, we are yet to receive a response.’ 

The furore over petrol pricing has prompted fuel thefts at forecourts to surge by up to 61 per cent as drivers struggle to afford spiralling pump prices.

Industry bosses revealed the worrying trend yesterday, with about 50,000 ‘drive-offs’ and ‘no means to pay’ incidents happening monthly across the UK.

The average value of each fuel theft has surged from £53.28 to £78.19 and Mr Balmer said that it could cost the industry £25 million a year.

He said ‘drive-offs’ – where a motorist fills up and makes no attempt to pay – and people being unable to pay had collectively surged 61 per cent this year compared with the same period last year. He said: ‘In terms of fuel thefts, it’s going through the roof.

‘We also then have “no means to pay” incidents, when somebody fills up and then they say they have left their wallet or purse at home and can’t pay. That comes in at about another £16 million.

He said police refuse to deal with the incidents valued at less than £100. 

Source: Read Full Article