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Supermarkets playing less fair with fuel prices

The UK’s four big supermarkets have raised the price of petrol almost every day for three months – including on days when other retailers managed to lower their prices.

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 while the overall UK average price of petrol among all retailers dropped five times during that three-month period, the supermarkets still pushed up their prices very slightly.

RAC data shows a higher jump in supermarket fuel pricing over the period; while 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 the supermarkets, the average price of unleaded has jumped 9.69p from 115.75p to 125.44p.

But at the supermarkets, the average price of unleaded has jumped 9.69p from 115.75p to 125.44p.

RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams said: “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.”

Written by Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for 16 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. As Business Editor, Natalie ensures the group websites and newsletters are updated with the latest news.

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