Petrol sales dip 'driven by price rise'

Petrol sales dip 'driven by price rise'

Motorists have been filling up with less petrol than ever before, new official figures show.

The RAC says March's figures are the lowest since records began 25 years ago and were stilted by increasing prices at the pump and families cutting back on car use ahead of the Easter holidays.

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) says 1.31 billion litres of petrol were bought in March - 10% less than during February. Sales had risen by 4% in February with prices 22p per litre lower than they had been 12 months earlier.

The figures show that diesel sales also fell by 7% to total 2.26 billion litres in March. Compared to March 2014 petrol sales were down 4% while the amount of diesel sold was only 1% less.

The dips in March coincided with the price of petrol and diesel rising by 3p and nearly 2p a litre respectively.

The fall in sales means the Treasury collected £2.06 billion in fuel duty in March, £172 million less than in February.

Simon Williams, fuel spokesman for the RAC, says: "Fuel usage statistics from February clearly demonstrated increased vehicle use from both petrol and diesel drivers, but these figures show this has been reversed.

"March is traditionally one of the lowest months of the year for petrol consumption, as a result of families using their cars less ahead of greater use in the Easter holidays. This March, however, has seen the lowest petrol sales in 25 years, no doubt driven by rising pump prices.

"Diesel sales are, of course, always buoyed by the fact lorries, vans, buses and many company cars are fuelled by it.

"The decline in petrol sales has been apparent for several years as motorists switched to diesel for better fuel economy and lower carbon dioxide emissions. Diesel fuel sales overtook petrol sales in 2007 (diesel 25.5bn v petrol 24bn litres) and have continued to grow to 27.9bn litres in 2014 in contrast to just 17.6bn litres of petrol."

Copyright Press Association 2015