Fuel firms accused of ‘rocket and feather pricing’ as petrol hits new high

Data firm Experian said the average price of a litre of petrol at UK forecourts reached a new high of 191.1p on Sunday.

Fuel pumps
Fuel pumps

Fuel retailers were accused of a “classic example of rocket and feather pricing” as the cost of petrol reached a new record.

The RAC claimed significant reductions in wholesale costs for petrol mean companies have a “clear opportunity” to stop continuously hiking pump prices.

Data firm Experian said the average price of a litre of petrol at UK forecourts reached a new high of 191.1p on Sunday.

Diesel prices reached a record of 199.1p per litre on Saturday, before dropping slightly to 198.9p per litre a day later.

Pump price of unleaded petrol (daily average per litre)
(PA Graphics)

Attending the G7 summit in Germany, Boris Johnson acknowledged that motorists were looking to the Government to do more to ease the cost pressures.

“We need to help people through the current pressures. At the pumps people are thinking ‘you know, this Government could do more to help with the cost of fuel’,” he told the BBC.

“People are thinking, ‘what are they doing to help me with the cost of food?’ So we’re doing as much as we possibly can.”

Downing Street declined to say whether this was actively being worked on when asked about the Prime Minister’s comments.

“I would just point to the help that we have provided to people,” a No 10 spokesman said, noting the £1,200 support for the most vulnerable households, 5p fuel duty cut and national insurance threshold change.

The Competition and Markets Authority launched a “short and focused review” of fuel prices earlier this month after a request by Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng.

The concept of rocket and feather pricing for fuel involves retailers quickly hiking pump prices when the cost of oil rises, but being slow to pass on the benefits of decreases in oil prices.

RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams said: “We are struggling to see how retailers can justify continuing to put up their unleaded prices as the wholesale cost of petrol has reduced significantly.

“This is sadly a classic example of rocket and feather pricing in action, and one which the Competition and Markets Authority will no doubt be looking at very closely.

“It seems as if retailers are making matters worse for themselves by not lowering their forecourt prices despite having a clear opportunity to do so.”

He added: “The only explanation of retailers’ resistance to reducing prices is that they’re protecting profits in case of wholesale costs suddenly going back up.

“Ultimately, the longer they hold out, the more they benefit and the longer the misery continues for drivers struggling with the high prices.”

A 5p per litre reduction in fuel duty implemented by the Treasury in March has not stopped prices from soaring.

The Government has resisted demands for another, deeper cut to help motorists.

AA president Edmund King warned that “crippling” pump prices could “stifle summer staycations” at a time when airports are struggling to cope with demand.

He called on the Government to “urgently take action on price transparency and cut duty levels”.

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