Lower prices at the pumps have pushed up petrol sales, according to latest figures.
UK motorists bought 1.51 billion litres of petrol in April – a big rise on the record-low of 1.37 billion litres in March, HM Revenue and Customs statistics highlighted by the AA showed.
Last month’s total was still down on the 1.68 billion litre figure of April last year when sales were boosted by panic buying over the threat of a tanker strike.
Diesel sales, which include lorry and commercial vehicle sales, last month totalled 2.29 billion litres – a rise on the March total of just under 2.11 billion litres.
The AA pointed out that the price of petrol at the pumps had fallen around 8p a litre in April.
Average petrol prices, which were as high as 140p a litre at the beginning of March, were as low as 133.22p on May 12 but up a fraction to 133.75p at the beginning of this week.
AA/Populus research among 21,510 AA members in mid-April showed high pump prices were forcing large numbers to cut back on car use.
The AA added that each of the three 8p to 10p petrol pump surges in the past 12 months caused petrol sales to slump as family budgets snapped under the strain.
It said Treasury fuel duty receipts from petrol averaged £907.5 million a month last year. In February this year, the tax take had fallen to £829 million before falling to £797 million in March.
AA president Edmund King said: “Three pump price surges, three pump sales crashes – the official figures don’t lie.
“The Office of Fair Trading called them ‘price shocks’ and the failure of petrol sales to rebound as strongly as they did last year suggests that drivers remain stunned even when prices on forecourts go down.”
He went on: “Unless the ongoing EU investigation into fuel pricing, called for by the AA two years ago, can uncover systematic manipulation of oil and fuel prices, the drivers’ only defence would be a transparent wholesale price.
“However, motoring families are denied any warning of impending surges in pump prices and the ability to brace their budgets against the impact. They respond by cutting back on car use and undermining Treasury fuel duty receipts. The Government’s new policy unit needs to look at this quickly.”
Source: London Evening Standard