Britons cut back petrol usage amid cost of living squeeze

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(Photo by BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images)

Britons are cutting back on petrol and diesel purchases as they reduce the number of car journeys they make to save cash, amid a worsening cost of living crisis.

Darren Briggs, managing director of the Ascona Group, which operates 60 fuel stations across the United Kingdom, said on Friday sales volumes were down 6-8% over the last six weeks.

“We are seeing our customers making that 20 pound to 30 pound ($24.4-$36.6) purchase of fuel last that little bit longer,” he told BBC radio.

“Pre-Covid we would retail around about 2.8 million litres a week, we’re down to about 2.6 (million),” he said.

But Darren Morgan, director of economic statistics at the ONS, said that people had already started spending less in shops and were cutting down on car journeys due to the high cost of fuel at the pumps in March.

Unleaded petrol is currently at £1.65 a litre on average, up 2.75p since 1 May, while diesel is at £1.79, a fraction off the previous record high set on 23 March.

Britain‘s Office for National Statistics said on Thursday that the UK economy is shrinking by 0.1 percent in March.

Surging prices are causing the biggest squeeze on UK household incomes since at least the 1950s and consumer confidence is at near record lows. Last month, official data found almost a quarter of Britons were struggling to pay household bills, while the boss of the country’s second largest supermarket group Sainsbury’s said shoppers were “watching every penny”.

Rod Dennis of the RAC said the “cost of living crisis is undoubtedly having a very real effect” on drivers using their cars.

“Unfortunately, as a result of yet more increases in the wholesale cost of fuel in recent days we’re likely to see pump prices rise even further in the coming weeks, increasing the squeeze on households,” BBC quoted Dennis as saying.