Fuel prices drop, but we’re still being ripped off buy supermarkets

Data shows that the average price for petrol dropped by 6p per litre in December, but also that we’re still being ripped off by some retailers

KTM night fuel petrol

December 2023 saw a significant drop in fuel prices, but data shows that they could - and should - have fallen even lower.

The data comes from the RAC, which reports that there was a 6p drop in per-litre petrol prices in the UK last month, while diesel fell by 5p. It means that, on average, petrol now costs 140.48p per litre in the UK and 149.18p per litre for diesel.

Prices in Northern Ireland are lower than in England, Scotland, and Wales. People in Northern Ireland are paying, on average, 135.28p per litre of petrol, and 144.2p per litre of diesel.

Part of the reason for the drop in prices, which in December marked the second consecutive month of this trend, is the price of oil, which is currently under $80 per barrel. In the build-up to the Russian invasion of Ukraine at the beginning of 2022, oil was as high as $130 per barrel.

Despite the price cuts, the RAC believes that the prices should fall further still. It says that the “four big supermarkets” have margins of 13p per litre, on average, “which is more than double the amount taken in 2021,” the RAC says. It also says that an independently run forecourt in Shropshire is currently charging 130.9p per litre for petrol.

The average price at the big four UK supermarkets is currently 137.63p per litre, but the RAC says that this should be more like 132p per litre if they were to reduce their margins to something closer to the long-term average of 7p per litre.

RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams said: “It’s clearly good news that both petrol and diesel came down substantially in December. While we’re starting the year paying much less at the pumps than we have done, it’s still galling to know that drivers aren’t being charged a fair price in comparison to Northern Ireland where the very same petrol and diesel is at least 5p a litre cheaper.

“It’s surely impossible to argue that competition is working properly if prices are so vastly different in two parts of the UK. And if an independent retailer in the middle of Shropshire can be undercutting the supermarkets by around 6p a litre, something has to be very badly wrong.
“We continue to call on the biggest retailers to play fair with drivers and lower their prices to match what’s being charged in Northern Ireland.”

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