Petrol pump rip-off revealed as profits on the forecourt double
Fuel retailers have been accused of taking advantage of motorists as analysis shows they have made 55pc more per litre of petrol over the past year.
According to trade body the RAC, the average retailer margin grew from 8.7p in 2021 to 13.5p in 2022. It stood at 6.5p before the pandemic, meaning it has doubled in just three years.
The price of diesel at the pump has grown less over the last year, with an increase of 1.5p per litre, but this is still up 50pc since 2019.
It comes after the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) suggested that retailers’ margins had grown between 2017 and 2021, as part of its preliminary investigation into fuel pricing.
Simon Williams, the RAC’s fuel spokesman, warned retailers there was “no justification” to increase prices this week as wholesale costs rise.
The motoring group believes margins have been boosted by so-called “rocket and feather” tactics, where prices surge as wholesale costs increase but drop much more gradually when they fall. This is also being investigated by the CMA.
Despite wholesale petrol costs tumbling by 23p per litre in the nine weeks to December 18, average pump prices took almost another month to fall by just 18p.
Wholesale diesel prices plummeted by 32p a litre over a similar period, yet pump prices took 12 weeks to fall by just 20p.
Mr Williams said: “This is a galling situation for drivers who are struggling more than ever given the impacts of the wider cost of living crisis.
“The question now is whether retailers will start to bump up their prices. This will depend on whether they decide to continue enjoying larger margins or let them return to more normal levels.
“There is absolutely no justification for pump prices to rise. If they do rise in the coming days, this will be further evidence of the biggest retailers taking advantage of motorists.”
CMA data shows that retailer margins had increased by around 2-3p per litre of diesel and 3-4p per litre of petrol between 2017 and 2021.
Mr Williams urged ministers to ensure that retailers quickly passed on savings when wholesale fuel prices drop, arguing this would stop drivers being “treated unfairly” and limit inflation.
He added: “This is the prime time to take action for the benefit of consumers and businesses”.