The number of petrol stations in the UK has fallen to an all time low. The annual Retail Marketing survey conducted by the Energy Institute showed 270 forecourts closed last year, with the biggest decrease in the number of independent retailers. There are now 9,013 petrol stations compared to almost 40,000 in 1967.
Although the number of forecourts has fallen overall, supermarket retailers increased their numbers last year. Worst hit were independent unbranded stations, which closed 120 sites in 2009. Fuel prices actually fell during the year, with the average price of a litre of unleaded down from 107.46p in 2008 to 99.86p in 2009. The corresponding figures for diesel were 118.22p to 104.26p respectively.
The survey also showed a fall in fuel consumption, with petrol down by 383,000 tonnes and diesel down by 217,000 tonnes during 2009. However, despite the recession, less petrol being sold and fewer stations in which to fill up, more vehicles were registered last year than ever before, with 34.21m now on our roads.
Disappointed with the survey results, Brian Madderson, Chairman of the Independent Petrol Retailers Association, said: “The number of petrol forecourts in the UK is at the lowest level in history, while the number of vehicles on the road is at the highest. As a result, consumers are losing out as they are forced to travel further to fill up their vehicles.
“With yet more government fuel duty increases on the horizon, we are extremely concerned that the trend of closing petrol forecourts will only continue.”
The Energy Institute report concluded the trends of falling fuel consumption could however be seen as a positive in terms of more judicious choices by consumers in terms of the types of journeys they take on four wheels.