Asda announced yesterday that it would drop the price of petrol and diesel by 2p a litre from today, quickly followed by Sainsbury’s, Morrisons and Tesco.
The latest round of reductions follows a string of price drops earlier this year as retailers battle for a share of the fuel market.
Asda’s cut translates to 130.7p for unleaded petrol and 134.7p for diesel. Motoring groups welcomed the news, but said petrol prices remained expensive for drivers. The UK has the ninth-highest petrol price and the second-highest diesel price in Europe, according to recent analysis by the AA.
“The spotlight has moved away from fuel prices because they are currently below record levels,” said RAC Foundation director Professor Stephen Glaister. “But in historical terms they are still stubbornly high.”
The average price of petrol has not been below 130p per litre since March 2011.
“Drivers will welcome the latest fuel price reductions at the pumps,” said AA president Edmund King, adding that prices of both petrol and diesel had crept up by around 1p a litre last month.
He added: “Our June fuel price report revealed that retailers had on average this year been charging at least 1p per litre extra on diesel. Hence we believe that all retailers should look to cut fuel prices to reflect the market price at the pumps.”
He said that over the past six weeks, retailers have been paying 2p-3p more a litre for diesel compared to petrol – while diesel consumers had on average been forking out 4p a litre more for their fuel than those using petrol cars.
“The AA advises that diesel prices vary locally more than petrol, so drivers should search out diesel-friendlier forecourts,” he said.
Most retailers charge different prices depending on the area where the petrol station is located, although Asda has set a cap on its national pricing in recent months.
Andy Peake, Asda’s petrol trading director, said: “Our national price cap benefits everyone across the country, meaning that no-one filling up at Asda will be forced to pay a premium for their fuel because of where they live.”
Recent figures showed that lower prices at the pumps have pushed up petrol sales in recent months. However, a report from the RAC found that up to half of Scottish drivers have cut out non-essential trips to save money on fuel.
The motoring organisation said that two-thirds of drivers have had to cut back on essential items just so they can keep the car on the road.
A rise in fuel duty scheduled for September was cancelled by Chancellor George Osborne in his Budget earlier this year.