Historically, premium fuels such as super unleaded have kept a respectable distance of at least 5 pence a litre away from unleaded. In some cases, the difference has been as much as 15 pence per litre.

Recent data from PetrolPrices.com indicates that some supermarket brands are now bucking this trend and offering super unleaded at only a few pence more than the cheapest unleaded stations in the area. Indeed, if you are smart about where you buy, you can now get super unleaded fuel “cheaper” than unleaded fuel in some parts of the UK.

For example, as of Monday this week, the cheapest super unleaded station in the UK is a Sainsbury’s station in Tamworth, recorded at 114.7 pence per litre. That’s 1.7 pence per litre cheaper than the national average price for unleaded, which stands at 116.4 pence per litre.

The news will delight premium fuel converts and those who drive high-performance vehicles that need fuels on a higher-octane rating to ensure peak performance and protect the engine against unnecessary wear and tear.

The charts below illustrate that over the last few months, Tesco and Sainsbury’s appear to be selling super unleaded at very competitive prices, close to the average price for unleaded from main petrol retailers. PetrolPrices.com believes this is a conscious tactic by the supermarkets to try to lure the most profitable customers into buying at the supermarkets.

Petrol retailer v supermarkets average prices April – May- June

Unleaded
April (p) Change (p) May (p) Change (p) June (p)
BP 120.4 1.6 118.8 1.5 118.5
Shell 120.1 1.6 118.5 1.5 118.1
Esso 119.3 1.7 117.6 1.5 117.3
Texaco 119.4 1.8 117.6 1.5 117.4
Gulf 119.7 1.5 118.2 1.5 117.9
ASDA 113.9 1.3 112.6 -0.1 112.7
Sainsburys 115.6 1.5 114.1 0.3 113.8
Tesco 115.4 1.1 114.3 0.2 114.1
Morrisons 114.5 1.7 112.8 -0.1 112.9
Super unleaded
April (p) Change (p) May (p) Change (p) June (p)
BP 132.1 1.5 130.6 0.1 130.5
Shell 130.7 1.8 128.9 0 128.9
Esso 131.2 1.4 129.8 0.3 129.5
Texaco 129.4 1.5 127.9 -0.4 128.3
Gulf 131.8 1.2 130.6 1.2 129.4
ASDA N/A 0 N/A 0 N/A
Sainsburys 120.7 1.6 119.1 0 119.1
Tesco 120.6 1.2 119.4 0.3 119.1
Morrisons N/A 0 N/A 0 N/A

 

A famous rule of buying psychology is that if someone buys from the same place more than three times, it becomes habit forming and generates loyalty. In this instance, it seems that the Tesco and Sainsbury’s are trying to not only create habits for premium fuel users to switch away from the main retailers, they are also trying to convert existing unleaded fuel users to “trade up” with very little change in cost (it works out at roughly £1-2 extra per fill up).

Benefits of premium fuels

Premium fuels are refined to be at a higher octane rating than standard fuels, which burn more in the engine, thus creating more power and improved fuel efficiency. They also contain additives that not only clean the engine and make it perform better, but also protect against wear and tear inside the engine itself.

It is a widely accepted practice that every month you should “treat your car” to a tank of premium fuel, as this is will improve the performance and long-term health of the car. It seems that this is now more cost effective than ever, given the recent price changes led by Tesco and Sainsbury’s.

How and where to find price anomalies

Using our fuel price comparison tool is, of course, the best way to find these price anomalies. They appear all over the UK. The best way to check is to try to price search between home and the workplace, or regular weekly trip locations. You should notice a marked difference in pricing between affluent areas with fewer stations and locations where there is more local competition, especially high concentrations of supermarkets clustered together.

To give you an example, in Guildford the cheapest unleaded price is at Sainsbury’s Burpham, at 115.9 pence per litre. Six miles away in Aldershot, Tesco is selling super unleaded at 117.9 pence per litre. That’s 2 pence per litre difference, equivalent to a £1 increase in cost for a vastly superior fuel if filling a standard 55-litre fuel tank.

Can you get super unleaded cheaper than unleaded?

As mentioned earlier, in some parts of the UK the cost of super unleaded is lower than the UK average for unleaded fuel. Thus, if you’re driving on a long journey, you can take advantage of the lower costs versus what you pay locally.

You can also use vouchers and/or gift cards when you purchase super unleaded to get it at a cheaper price than unleaded.

Both Tesco and Sainsbury’s provide money off fuel vouchers. You can receive these when you spend a certain amount of money in-store, or earn Clubcard points on fuel to get a discount that is sent in vouchers three months later. When you enter the store, it’s also worth visiting the customer service desk and asking if there are any fuel promotions running. For example, at Christmas, Morrison’s was offering 10 pence a litre discount on fuel if you spent £50 in store, so it’s well worth asking.

 

Have you found somewhere where the price of super unleaded is close to or cheaper than unleaded? Do you think petrol retailers try to confuse us with their pricing? Let us know in the comments below.

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