Supermarket chain Asda has dropped its fuel prices by around 5p per litre in the last two days, prompting calls for its major rivals to follow suit.
The retailer - one of the UK’s biggest fuel sellers - did not announce the reductions but quietly dropped petrol prices by an average 4.5p per litre and diesel by 5.5p at its 320 filling stations, according to RAC data. That means it is now charging 153.5p for petrol and 176.7p for diesel, compared with a national average of 157.8p and 181.3p respectively.
The RAC’s fuel spokesman Simon Williams welcomed the surprise reduction but said that it still did not go far enough. He said that the current disparity between wholesale and pump prices was “truly shocking” and urged Asda’s rivals to go further in making cuts.
He said: “While we’re pleased one major supermarket retailer has finally started heeding our calls to pass on the enormous drop in the wholesale prices of both fuels, the fact these price cuts have been made so quietly is surely an admission that they should have come much sooner.
“Asda is now charging around 2p less than its rivals. We urge the other three supermarkets to catch up quickly – or go even further – and give drivers some much-needed relief from high prices next time they fill up.”
Fuel retailers, including supermarkets, have been accused of boosting their profits at the expense of struggling motorists by keeping prices artificially high as their own costs fall. In recent days the price of oil has dropped below $80 per barrel for the first time in 2022 and wholesale petrol costs have dropped to 105p a litre, with diesel at 119p.
Mr Williams added: “Despite Asda’s reductions our analysis of wholesale data shows this should really be just the beginning as there’s easily scope for another 10p a litre to come off the current average price of both petrol and diesel. Perhaps it will be Asda which once again takes a leadership position by further cutting its prices to help drivers save money in the run-up to Christmas.”
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) recently revealed that 2022 has been the most volatile year on record for fuel prices. Costs shot up by 50p per litre in the first half of the year before falling back by around 31p per litre between June and November. It also said that it had found evidence of “rocket and feather” pricing - where prices soar as soon as wholesale costs increase but fall back far slower as they decrease - and that it would be examining the growing profit margins being enjoyed by some retailers.