Supermarkets Launch Petrol Price War

Posted on 1 October, 2012 by Kirsten Kennedy

Petrol prices are a massive sticking point in the UK at the moment, with filling stations in this country posting some of the highest prices in Europe. And with petrol prices having risen by 38 per cent, and diesel having risen 43 per cent, in the past five years alone, it is hardly a surprise that angry consumers are now demanding that something must be done.

The recession has meant that disposable income has dropped dramatically since 2008, and with many employees having experienced pay freezes as a result of poor economic conditions, few people in the UK currently have money to burn. As speculators push the price of oil ever higher, however, there are still some companies trying to look out for their customers.

Asda announced that it would be dropping 3 pence per litre from the price of fuel sold in its forecourts late last week, with rival supermarket group Sainsbury’s matching Asda’s promise only hours later. Both chains hope that this decision will entice disillusioned consumers into their forecourts, and latterly their stores.

As a result of this promise, motorists will not have to pay more than 135.7 pence per litre for petrol, or 139.7 pence per litre for diesel, in any branch of Asda or Sainsbury’s in the country. While compared to pre-2000 prices, this is still monstrously expensive, but nowhere near as much as petrol stations were charging during the petrol panic in April of this year, when prices reached an all time high.

Petrol Trading Director for Asda, Andy Peake, claims that a recent drop in wholesale oil prices has allowed the supermarket giant to reduce the cost of fuel, thus passing on the savings to its customers.

He said; “We always aim to be the first retailer in each part of the country to drop prices when costs are falling and the last to put them up.

“And when we do drop prices, we drop them everywhere, setting a maximum national price cap for our customers which means they all benefit from our low prices regardless of where they live.”

Supermarkets and other fuel retailers have been put under pressure by the Office of Fair Trading recently, who announced plans to investigate the industry. This is to ensure that savings are passed on to consumers when the wholesale price of crude oil drops, rather than retailers taking advantage of the situation by profiteering.

Sainsbury’s has, so far, been the only other supermarket to announce a drop in petrol prices, although rival chains are expected to follow suit in a bid to remain competitive.

In a statement, Sainsbury’s said; “We review our petrol and diesel prices regularly to ensure we always provide customers with great value.

“We are doing everything we can to help our customers to save money and, along with the promotions we run in stores, competitive fuel prices and fuel promotions are a great way for us to help shoppers to meet their weekly budget requirements.”

Motoring group The AA have been at the forefront of the battle for fairer fuel prices for some time now, and say that the announcements by Asda and Sainsbury’s are a positive sign for motorists, as well as praising Walmart-owned Asda for their vigilance in monitoring fuel prices.

A spokesman said; “Traditionally when petrol prices fall it will be Asda who cuts their prices first. Of course the move will be welcomed by motorists.”

Do you think that large supermarket chains dropping their fuel prices is a positive sign for the future, or do you believe that it is simply a temporary lull before costs rise sharply again? Should the Office of Fair Trading have got involved with the oil industry before, or do you think consumers do benefit from falling wholesale prices when costs drop?


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