Fuel stations risk closure as petrol sales fall 75%

Many petrol stations, particularly those in rural areas, will have to close due to poor sales during the coronavirus lockdown

Many petrol stations in the UK, particularly those in rural areas, will have to close in the coming weeks, with the coronavirus shutdown having led to a 75 per cent reduction in petrol sales, while diesel sales are down 71 per cent.

The Petrol Retailers Association (PRA) was warned that the lack of sales is making running some fuel stations unviable, with smaller, independent operators most at risk. Filling stations of this sort have already started closing in rural areas of the west country, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Brian Madderson, chairman of the PRA, told Auto Express that while some of these retailers are closing “in the short term”, it’s unknown whether some of those more severely affected will be able to start back up again once the COVID-19 lockdown has passed.

In addition, a number of filling station staff are having to self-isolate, supermarkets are continuing to compete fiercely with independent retailers, and some fuel suppliers are not offering much flexibility on delivery loads and credit terms.

The PRA says it aims to keep a strategic network of petrol stations open across the UK, but advises drivers to check their local fuel station is open before they go to fill up. That said, it’s thought that large fuel stations run by supermarkets and oil companies will remain open, so there shouldn’t be any cases of panic buying.

The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has conducted a survey of nearly 60 per cent of all filling stations across the UK. As well as confirming the sales drops, it also showed that over 60 per cent of the UK’s fuel stations have full storage tanks of both petrol and diesel.

They would have purchased this fuel weeks ago at much higher wholesale prices than today’s, with Brent Crude (a benchmark price for worldwide oil purchasing) having collapsed to an 18-year low of $20 (approximately £16) per barrel.

The PRA is now calling on the Government to instruct fuel suppliers to give the same 60-day credit terms to independent filling stations as they give to the supermarkets.

“To help freight move and help key workers travel safely and independently through this period of crisis, petrol filling stations must remain open, but this is proving to be a challenge for many filling stations,” said Madderson.

“Fuel retailers are having to maintain pump prices at previous levels to avoid suffering significant stock losses. When the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted and high sales volumes return, then we expect to see reductions in retail fuel prices.

“Petrol stations are the Government’s tax collectors, with duty and VAT representing 70 per cent of the pump price. It is in their interests that we remain open for business.”

Click here for our guide on how to cut fuel costs...

Recommended

2022 Geneva Motor Show cancelled due to ongoing Covid-19 pandemic
Geneva
Geneva Motor Show

2022 Geneva Motor Show cancelled due to ongoing Covid-19 pandemic

Geneva show cancelled for three years running but hope for 2023 return remains
7 Oct 2021
UK new car sales stagnate in September but 33,000 electric cars are sold
Tesla Model 3 - front
News

UK new car sales stagnate in September but 33,000 electric cars are sold

Electric cars increase their market share but semiconductor shortage means another gloomy month for the car industry
5 Oct 2021
UK car production down 27% in August amid ongoing chip shortage
Production line
News

UK car production down 27% in August amid ongoing chip shortage

Only 37,246 cars rolled off production lines in the UK in August 2021, but EVs and hybrids took a record market share
30 Sep 2021
Bank holiday traffic expected to return to pre-Covid levels
Traffic
News

Bank holiday traffic expected to return to pre-Covid levels

Congestion is expected over the August bank holiday, but drivers plan on staying closer to home
24 Aug 2021

Most Popular

Friends reunited: buying back a Porsche 911
Porsche 911
Porsche 911 Coupe

Friends reunited: buying back a Porsche 911

How perfect timing led a Porsche 911 fanatic to buy back his old car
14 Oct 2021
New Ford Focus unveiled with 2021 facelift and tech updates
Ford Focus ST Line - front
Ford Focus Hatchback

New Ford Focus unveiled with 2021 facelift and tech updates

Ford has given the Focus hatchback a refresh for 2021, with a new design and an improved infotainment suite
14 Oct 2021
New Skoda Kodiaq SportLine 2021 review
Skoda Kodiaq SportLine - front
Skoda Kodiaq SUV

New Skoda Kodiaq SportLine 2021 review

The seven-seat Skoda Kodiaq SUV gets styling tweaks and tech upgrades in facelift
15 Oct 2021