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Fuel sales slump

Last week we discussed the AA’s prediction there would be two million fewer motorists on the road over the bank holiday weekend thanks to a potent mix of bad weather, high fuel prices and panic buying.

Looks like the prediction came (almost) true! (Numbers were a little off). And as a result of the fall in the number of Easter travellers, fuel sales have slumped with retailers again blaming the Government for sparking the panic buying. Unleaded petrol sales were down 29 percent compared with Easter 2011. Diesel fell by 2.9 percent, super diesel 60 percent and super unleaded by 39 percent.

The Retail Motor Industry’s (RMI) Brian Madderson said drivers already had full tanks “from purchases made during the panic buying period.”

“Although the wintry weather over Easter was a factor, panic buying was so high it was clearly as big and as deep as we indicated it would be at the time.”

The panic buying, caused by poor advice from Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude who told motorists to keep stocked up on fuel (despite a strike happening before Easter never seeming likely), has had untold ripples across so many sectors of UK economy – retail, tourism, transport, fleet, the list goes on.

Not to mention the safety aspects: Maude’s advice to keep petrol in jerry cans was deemed “dangerous” by the Fire Brigade’s Union, and has been blamed for the severe burns one woman from York received when trying to decant petrol in her home.

Talks to resolve the tanker driver’s dispute and avoid industrial action have now resumed and are being chaired by conciliation service ACAS.

Chief conciliator Peter Harwood said: “I am encouraged that talks are continuing and that the parties are committed to finding a way forward.”

Despite the crisis seemingly avoided for the moment, motorists still have to contend with record high petrol prices which are hovering around 140p a litre – thanks Mr Maude! We hate to imagine what advice he might give if a strike does go ahead!
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