It’s hard to believe, and perhaps it gets lost with the differences between forecourts, but November saw petrol and diesel prices drop for the fourth consecutive month, by an average of £0.005 per litre.

However, motoring experts say that fuel is still overpriced, and the AA say that supermarkets aren’t helping the situation with their ‘deals’; spend £60 in-store and get 10p off a litre of fuel. It’s thought that only around 1/3 of motorists regularly spend this amount when grocery shopping.

Fuel price drop

Fuel price analysts say that fuel is still overpriced, and considering that supermarkets have the margins to lower forecourt costs by up to £0.05 per litre, they should be doing more to help drive the prices down, and given that wholesale costs are low, they should be doing this.

The Fuel Watch report carried out by the RAC, says that prices for last month fell by £0.0048 for petrol, and £0.0044 for diesel in the same period, making the average price per litre drop from £1.26.41 to £1.25.93 (unleaded) and £1.30.27 to £1.29.83 (diesel).

This means that the average cost to fill a 55-litre tank is £69.26 (unleaded) and £71.41 (diesel), which is almost a couple of pounds less than the prices being paid in the summer. Since the beginning of August, fuel prices have dropped by around £0.03.31 for unleaded and £0.02.21 for diesel.

Petrol Prices

Of course, we at PetrolPrices could argue that downloading our app could potentially save you more than that anyway (with potential savings of over £220 per year), but in a survey carried out by the AA, consumers want to see more action being done to regulate prices, including forced time periods for following the wholesale cost; so that a forecourt had to reduce the price within a certain timescale.

The AA surveyed nearly 18,000 members, 73% agreed that the Government should set a maximum timescale for retailers to pass on savings, and 86% agreed that they thought supermarkets had the cheapest fuel.

With that said, supermarkets have come in for some heavy criticism, thanks mainly to the spend & save deals linked to fuel. Just 34% of the respondents to the survey said they would regularly spend £60 or more on groceries, and for those aged between 18-24, that figure fell to just one in ten.

When these schemes were first introduced, the ‘spend’ figure had variables – spend £20 for 2p per litre saving, £30 for a three pence saving, but these have gone by the wayside as supermarkets look to maximise their revenue, and in-store spending. 58% of the survey said that they thought supermarket vouchers were an underhand way of getting consumers to spend more.

One supermarket retailer did come out of it well though – ASDA had the cheapest fuel at the end of November, with retailers such as Sainsburys and Morrisons charging nearly two pence extra for diesel. It was also reported that significant savings at the pump (rather than through a voucher) only really happens when ASDA triggers a fuel price war.

Lesson learned?

Overall, consumers think that supermarkets have the cheapest fuel, and statistics do bear that out – averagely, supermarket fuel is £0.04.70 cheaper per litre than at other, regular forecourts, so clearly they’re doing something right, but is it enough?

It’s easy to say ‘vote with your feet’, but for some, that just isn’t practical; my nearest ASDA for example is seven miles away, an easy twenty-five minute journey each way, so I’d be faced with almost an hour’s driving for a small saving.

But … if you’re combining it with a trip for groceries also, then that could work for you, it certainly influences my shopping choice, and I can’t be alone. What would happen if people did start voting with their feet and using supermarkets in such a manner? You can easily see the likes of Tesco, Sainsburys and Morrisons having to compete, because they’d be losing both forecourt and retail revenue.

For some people, fussing over a penny or two saved at the forecourt is just an annoyance, but for others, it can be the difference between staying in the black, or hitting the red, and it shouldn’t be that way. Did you know that there are now more foodbanks than branches of the clown themed fast food restaurant?

Should supermarkets be doing more to help those on the breadline? Do you think that their ‘spend & save’ voucher is a good idea? Or just an underhand way of generating revenue? Let us know in the comments.

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