Retailers put pump prices up by 3p as wholesale prices FELL by 10p

Petrol rip-off: Retailers put pump prices up by 3p last month while wholesale prices FELL by 10p, RAC reveals

  • Motoring organisation hits out as drivers continue to experience high fuel prices
  • Wholesale oil prices have fallen in recent days amid concerns over Omicron
  • Despite this, however, retailers are still hiking the price of both petrol and diesel 

Retailers are still hiking fuel prices while making savings in wholesale oil prices, according to the RAC.

The motoring services organisation has hit out at the soaring costs still being experienced by drivers at the pump, even though oil prices fell by 10p last month amid concerns over the Omicron variant.

Rather than cutting prices, businesses instead added another 3.1p on average to a litre of unleaded petrol and 2.7p to diesel during November.

This meant motorists were having to shell out, on average, 147.28p and 150.64p respectively – both narrowly below the record-breaking peak reached earlier in November.

The RAC said today it feels there is no justification for the high prices being charged on forecourts and is pleading with retailers to cut pump prices immediately to fairer levels – by around 12p a litre for petrol and 7p for diesel.

A graph shows how wholesale petrol and diesel prices (the green and black dotted lines respectively) and petrol and diesel prices at the pump (the green and black solid lines respectively) have changed over time

A graph shows how much supermarkets have charged for petrol (green) and diesel (black) over time

A graph shows how the average price of petrol (green) and diesel (black) has changed by year

The discovery of the Omicron Covid variant is the reason for the sudden drop in wholesale prices towards the end of the month, with a barrel of oil falling to $70.90 at the end of November, down from $84.74 at the start of the month. 

RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams said: ‘Sadly, our data shows all too clearly that drivers are being taken for a ride by retailers at the moment. 

‘We can’t see any justification for the prices that are being charged at the pumps and are concerned that drivers on lower incomes who depend on their vehicles are being priced off the road altogether. 

‘The wholesale petrol price, which is what retailers pay to buy new supply, dropped by 10p from mid-November, so we can’t see how any increase – let alone a 3p one – was warranted. 

‘Much earlier in the pandemic we saw retailers’ margin on fuel understandably increase as the oil price plummeted on the back of people being told to stay at home.’

Prices have soared in recent months following a crisis earlier this autumn which saw huge queues outside forecourts amid a shortage of fuel.

Nearly 200 military drivers were deployed to the worst-hit areas to top up supplies while tensions often frayed among frustrated motorists desperate for fuel to get to work and school.

Mr Williams added: ‘Despite the news of a new Covid variant, we are in a completely different world now with car use near to pre-pandemic levels so retailers shouldn’t be taking huge profits on every litre of fuel they sell. 

‘We therefore urge them to do the right thing and cut their prices to much fairer levels as matter of urgency.

‘There’s also a clear argument that competition in fuel retailing isn’t working, a fact demonstrated by no one publicly defending their refusal to lower pump prices. 

‘There appears to be no desire among the big four retailers, which dominate fuel sales, to lower their prices to entice customers to store. 

‘If a major brand were to cut its prices tomorrow, you can guarantee that within hours the others would do the same. It would be much fairer if retailers mirrored wholesale prices more closely on a daily or weekly basis.’  

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