Average UK fuel prices are falling once again, according to figures released by the RAC this week. Data from the motoring organisation’s Fuel Watch initiative shows the average litre of petrol cost 182.69p at the end of July, down nearly 9p compared with the beginning of the month.
The RAC also says diesel prices have fallen almost as dramatically, down to 192.38p per litre at the end of July – a 7p reduction compared with the start of the month. As a result, the RAC estimates the average cost of filling a typical 55-litre fuel tank has fallen by almost £5 for drivers of petrol vehicles and by £3.68 for diesel drivers. However, average fill-up costs are still hovering just over the £100 mark.
Although these reductions represent the some of the most dramatic monthly reductions in the last 20 years (third-largest for petrol and fourth-largest for diesel), the RAC says retailers could be doing more to help beleaguered motorists. The organisation claims the wholesale cost of petrol – the amount retailers pay for the fuel before selling it on to drivers – has fallen for eight consecutive weeks.
From the start of June to the end of July, RAC figures show the wholesale cost of petrol has fallen by 20p, down from 151.93p per litre to 131.75p per litre. The last time unleaded cost this little on the wholesale market, Fuel Watch data showed an average pump price of 167p per litre.
Were customers paying that amount for petrol now, the RAC estimates the average fill-up would be as much as £9 lower than it currently is. And the organisation says diesel fill-ups should be around £6 cheaper than they currently are.
“July has been an unnecessarily tough month for drivers due to the big four supermarkets’ unwillingness to cut their prices to a more reasonable level, reflecting the consistent and significant reductions in the wholesale cost of petrol and diesel,” said RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams. “As it was, we saw independent retailers leading the charge with fairer pump prices appearing all around the country which eventually forced the supermarkets to finally implement a more substantial cut late on July 29.
“What ought to have happened is that the biggest retailers cut their prices more significantly on a daily basis, given the wholesale price of petrol has fallen steadily over the last eight weeks. Instead, average retailer margin for petrol across the industry has been up around 20p a litre for the last two weeks – more than three times its long-term average.
“The best advice for filling up is no longer to assume the supermarkets are the cheapest, but to shop around as it’s highly likely you’ll find an independent retailer which is doing the right thing and fairly reflecting their lower wholesale costs by charging a lower price.”