The UK’s four big supermarkets have raised the price of petrol almost every day for three months, the RAC can reveal.
Data from RAC Fuel Watch shows the supermarkets, which sell 45% of the country’s fuel, have increased the price of unleaded at the pumps virtually every day since 21 February (apart from five days when they stayed the same) in response to rising wholesale costs, but they have done so on days when other retailers have managed to lower their prices.
During that three-month period the overall UK average price of petrol among all retailers dropped five times, but in stark contrast the supermarkets still pushed up their prices very slightly.
A litre of unleaded now costs 128.35p on average compared to 119.74p on 21 February – an increase of 8.61p in the three months. At supermarkets, however, the jump has been even more striking at 9.69p from 115.75p to 125.44p.
RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams said:
“Our data very clearly shows the wholesale price of unleaded has increased dramatically over the last three months which has inevitably led to forecourt prices rising. But it is concerning to see the supermarkets, who many drivers trust to provide them with good value, putting up their prices when other smaller retailers have actually being fairer with their customers by more closely mirroring movements in the wholesale price.
“While three months of almost daily price rises isn’t an accurate reflection of wholesale price movements, the supermarkets appear to be protecting profits by being overly cautious about not getting caught out by the odd day of lower wholesale prices in what they believe is a consistently rising wholesale market.
“And, to make matters worse, this comes on top of the supermarkets – and retailers generally – not passing savings in the wholesale price of diesel back to drivers on the forecourt, perhaps in an effort to subsidise the price of petrol.
“We know oil is in shorter supply globally which is unfortunately pushing up prices for drivers at the pumps in the UK. We can only hope this isn’t going to continue for too much longer, otherwise we will see a return to the five-year high prices of last October when a litre of petrol was nearly 132p and diesel was 137p.”
Motorists can keep abreast of the latest fuel prices by visiting the RAC Fuel Watch webpage.