The cost of petrol in the UK has broken a major threshold, reaching a price of 150p per litre for the first time since January, as data provided by the AA shows.
This development presents a significant burden to consumers already grappling with a cost-of-living crisis.
The current average unleaded price stands at 150.1p per litre, while diesel has climbed to an even steeper 152.41p. Just a month ago, these fuels cost 143.61p and 151.63p per litre respectively. This escalation in prices represents an increase of over £3 in the cost of filling up a standard 55-litre car tank with petrol, now exceeding £82.
A noteworthy point in this scenario is the varying cost of petrol and diesel across different retailers. Currently, Sainsbury’s offers the lowest prices for both fuels. Over the past month, this retailer’s petrol prices escalated by the smallest margin, i.e., 4.11p, reaching 143.88p per litre.
Historically, Asda has been known to provide the most economical fuel prices. However, the scenario has shifted with its petrol prices now standing at 145.37p, representing a nearly 5p increase per litre.
In contrast, Shell has seen the most significant price jump, exceeding 7p per litre, thus becoming the most expensive place to refuel.
Fuel costs in the UK demonstrate marked regional differences. For instance, drivers in the South East are forced to bear the brunt of the highest petrol and diesel prices. Meanwhile, motorists in Northern Ireland enjoy petrol prices that are up to 5p per litre cheaper.
Top 5 Cheapest Retailers for Unleaded Fuel
- Sainsbury’s – 143.88p
- Asda – 145.37p
- Morrisons – 146.46p
- Tesco – 146.52p
- Jet – 147.6p
Top 3 Priciest Retailers for Unleaded Fuel
- Shell – 150.96p
- BP – 150.93p
- Esso – 150.35p
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is set to launch a voluntary scheme by the end of August. This initiative encourages retailers to disclose their pump prices, facilitating easier price comparisons at different forecourts.
According to AA’s spokesperson on pump prices, Luke Bosdet, wholesale cost increases seem to have peaked for now. However, the ripple effects of this surge are still trickling down to the pumps. Fuel stations offering fuel 4-5p cheaper per litre than the majority are still available. The challenge lies in identifying these locations.
The CMA’s voluntary scheme will require retailers to display pump prices on their individual websites for each of their forecourts. Bosdet believes this scheme should be operational soon. However, the number of retailer brands that have registered remains uncertain.
Retailers are escalating their prices in response to surging oil and wholesale costs. The wholesale price of petrol witnessed a 6p increase last month, driven by the rising cost of a barrel of oil, which saw a $10 hike in July.
At the beginning of the month, oil prices were around $74 a barrel, which surged to $85.56 by 31 July. This price level has remained stable, marking the highest oil price since mid-April.
For British drivers, the situation is further compounded by the depreciating pound against the US dollar. Since mid-July, the pound has weakened from a high of $1.31 to $1.27, triggering a significant rise in wholesale prices. Simon Williams, the RAC’s fuel price expert, noted that retailers are swiftly passing on these increases to drivers.
The rise in petrol prices comes at a time when the UK is grappling with a cost-of-living crisis. The increased cost at the pumps is adding to the already strained budgets of many households. The AA has even accused supermarkets of overcharging customers in rural areas for fuel.
Over the past month, supermarkets have marginally reduced their prices by half a penny when compared with company-branded retailers. However, the cost of diesel has correspondingly increased by a similar amount. Asda recently took a step towards transparency by starting to publish fuel prices at its forecourts online. This move makes Asda the first retailer to launch such a service amidst questions about widened profit margins at the pump.