Motorists in small market and coastal towns are particularly suffering from high prices, with the dearest petrol found in East Anglia and Wales, according to research by the AA.
It added that between mid-November and mid-December, the average UK price of petrol rose from 130.44p a litre to 131.17p, while diesel increased from 137.78p to 138.61p. The AA said Government statistics for retail sales and fuel consumption show that, despite this autumn’s 7p-a-litre crash in the petrol pump price, petrol sales failed to rebound.
Unlike the aftermath of previous fuel price spikes this year and in 2012, UK petrol sales in October fell by 26m litres on the month before.
The October figure of 1.486 billion litres was only seven million litres more than the slump in March last year when average prices were heading towards the all-time record of 142.48p a litre, reached on April 16, 2012.
AA president Edmund King said: “High pump prices have taught the UK motorist how to save on fuel and the fear is that, although petrol prices are down more than 10p a litre compared to the record of 142.48p, drivers are now applying those savings to shoring up other parts of the family budget, such as rising gas and electricity bills.
“It doesn’t help when hundreds of thousands of drivers in small rural and coastal towns with uncompetitive supermarkets are being charged 4p or 5p a litre more for the cheapest petrol than in neighbouring towns. In late November, supermarket petrol in Market Drayton in Shropshire was 6p a litre more expensive than down the road in Stoke-on-Trent.”
East Anglia and Wales are paying the most for petrol, averaging 131.4p a litre. But drivers in London, south-east England and the West Midlands have come off worst from the temporary rise in wholesale petrol and diesel prices, seeing average costs rise by 1p a litre to take them close to regional highs. In contrast, drivers in northern England and Yorkshire and the Humber are enjoying the lowest petrol prices with an average of 130.7p a litre.
Londoners are, however, buying the cheapest diesel in the country, despite a 1.2p surge in the average cost over the past month, with London now matching Yorkshire and the Humber with an average of 138.4p a litre. Scotland’s diesel, the dearest in the UK, averages 139.4p.