Petrol Stations Took 20 Per Cent Hit In 2020

Thu 1st Apr 2021

Fewer cars driving a lot less than normal during the coronavirus pandemic have hit many areas of the economy, none more so than at the petrol pump where sales of fuel fell by 20 per cent in 2020.

Statistics published this week show that sales of petrol slumped by 20.9 per cent last year, and perhaps surprisingly supermarket forecourts were hit the hardest, with an average drop of 22.3 per cent in people filling up over the course of a topsy turvy 2020.

The news on supermarkets suffering more than average has shocked many industry insiders, particularly as large supermarkets were often the only retail options available to many during the strictest lockdown periods. However, a reliance on online shopping, rather than venturing out, will have hit many of the supermarket brands also. It’s thought that traditional fuel retailers in local and rural locations would have felt the hit a little less.

“The greater impact of lockdown-restricted travel on supermarket petrol sales compared to the trade in general is a little surprising given that superstores have remained open throughout the pandemic,” said Luke Bosdet, fuel spokesman for the AA

“Fuel sales were always going to take a huge hit from car travel falling as low as 22 per cent (12 April) of pre-pandemic levels. 

“However, supermarkets continuing to trade suggested better fuel sales resilience, although the boom in grocery deliveries will have also meant fewer visits to the stores' forecourts.”

The drop in demand saw many fuel retailers see their prices dipping below £1-a-litre for the first time since 2016, but the price has bounced back, and Brian Madderson, chairman of the Petrol Retailers Association has predicted that the demand for fuel will return strong in 2021.

“The drop in petrol and diesel volumes can be directly attributed to the unprecedented Covid-19 travel restrictions placed upon motorists,” he told This Is Money.

“While there has been a growing demand for electric vehicles, their market share remains very modest. 

“With over 40 million internal combustion engines (ICE) vehicles still driving the UK economy, we expect fuel volumes to experience a strong bounce-back once restrictions have been lifted for good.”