Petrol sales dive amid March freeze


The coldest March for 50 years contributed to petrol sales falling to a new monthly low, it has been revealed.

UK drivers bought 1.37 billion litres of petrol in March 2013 - the lowest figure since monthly statistics began in January 1990.

The figures from HM Revenue and Customs were highlighted today by the AA.

The petrol consumption figure for last month compared with 1.43 billion litres in February 2013 and with just under 1.48 billion litres in March last year.

However, diesel consumption rose from 2.06 billion litres in March 2012 to just under 2.11 billion litres in March 2013.

The AA said the fall in petrol sales was reflected in Europe and the USA and contributed to petrol stocks in north-west Europe reaching a five-year high.

But it added that the wholesale price of petrol, which has been falling, jumped last Friday.

However, the AA still reckons that the average price of petrol, which has been coming down in recent days, will drop to around 134p a litre soon.

AA president Edmund King said: "Falling prices are good news, but they're not cause for celebration. Even if the average price of petrol falls to 134p a litre, that is still 2p a litre, or £1 a tank, higher than the start of the year.

"This time only three years ago, the pump price of petrol averaged 121p a litre and diesel 122p."

He went on: "Although you can understand refiners cutting back on production when there is such a huge glut of petrol in Europe, the speculators pumping up the price of petrol before that even happens is indicative of their fast-buck and destructive tendency.

"The continent is swimming in the stuff, yet the market thinks it should cost more."