Asda, Morrisons and Sainsbury’s have all committed to reducing the price of petrol by 2p and diesel by a penny this weekend in a second round of fuel pump cuts in as many weeks.
However, while the three supermarkets have promised to help reduce the cost of motoring for drivers from Saturday, retailers have been slammed by industry commentators for not passing savings on to motorists sooner.
The RAC, which monitors pump prices daily, said wholesale costs had been falling for weeks but some of the largest retailers had chosen to ‘hold off’ on forecourt reductions so that they could make ‘headline-grabbing cuts’ instead.
‘Headline grabbing cuts’: The RAC said fuel retailers had delayed passing on fuel savings to drivers in efforts to make it appear they were competing in a fuel price war
Drivers have been under the cosh of increasing fuel costs for months.
Ever since oil prices started rising to record levels from the end of March, motorists have seen the cost to fill up jump by more than 10p a litre in 2018.
Fortunately, this strain of higher fuel bills was predicted to ease when the price of oil started to drop in recent weeks – or so we thought.
Oil fell from highs of $80 a barrel on 23 May to $73 this week.
But despite this decline, a litre of petrol today is 13p a litre more expensive than it was a year ago and diesel 15p steeper per litre – which indicates that motorists haven’t seen the benefits of cheaper fuel at the pumps.
That’s even despite all three supermarkets reducing their fuel prices by up to 3p a litre a week ago.
Industry experts suggested then warned that retailers weren’t passing on the maximum savings to the nation’s drivers.
And while today’s announcement goes some way to close the gap between the price retailers pay for fuel and what they charge motorists at their forecourts, the RAC said there is no excuse for it not happening earlier.
RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams told This is Money: ‘Last week we called out the biggest retailers for waiting before reducing pump prices – even though wholesale prices had been falling for weeks.
‘While it will be a relief for many drivers that the price is finally starting to come down, we see no good reason for retailers not passing on these savings sooner.’
Mr Williams went on to add that some retailers were actively delaying the decision to reduce prices in a bid to stir up the idea of a fuel price war.
‘It would be fairer if prices came down as wholesale prices fall – as certainly prices can go up almost daily when wholesale prices are rising,’ Mr Williams added.
‘But it appears some of the largest retailers prefer to hold off so they can make a headline-grabbing cut.’
Sainsbury’s is one of three supermarket fuel retailers to reduce fuel prices for the second time in as many weeks
Morrisons head of fuel, Ashley Myers, claimed that the supermarket ‘always aims to pass on savings’ to drivers as soon as it can
Asda’s senior fuel buyer, Dave Tyrer, said on Friday that the supermarket was ‘once again leading the market in reducing fuel prices for hard pressed families’ by trimming petrol and diesel fees.
He went on to say in the statement that Asda’s Income Tracker had ‘shown that transport costs put the most pressure on household incomes’ despite the supermarket not easing this stress by reducing pump prices by more a week ago.
In a similar announcement, Karen O’Connor, Sainsbury’s category manager for petrol & kiosk, said: ‘We are committed to helping our customers live well for less and this is why we have decided to lower fuel prices for the second time in two weeks.’
Morrisons head of fuel Ashley Myers said the supermarket ‘always aim to pass on savings resulting from falling oil prices’ as soon as it can.
The good news for drivers is that experts have suggested that more savings should be on the way for motorists soon.
A decision by oil cartel Opec to lift production restrictions in Vienna on Friday could also have an impact on the cost of filling up a car.
However, how long it takes for these savings to be felt at the pumps is another question entirely.
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