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Oi! Supermarkets have been charging you 6p more per litre for fuel

And now a government body wants live online pricing to increase competition

Published: 04 Jul 2023

Turns out fuel has been unnecessarily expensive lately: a study by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has found that supermarkets’ profit margins grew by six pence per litre between 2019 and 2022.

Which is… pretty galling. Especially when you think the average tank of fuel cost more than £100 just over a year ago. The CMA reckons that a lack of competition is to blame, but don’t worry, it’s found no evidence of ‘cartel behaviour’. So that’s all fine, then.

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While Asda is ‘typically the cheapest’ place to buy fuel, apparently it decided to chase more profit at the pumps last year and its target margin is now three times higher than it was four years ago, while Morrisons’ has doubled in that time.

And according to the CMA, the likes of Sainsbury’s and Tesco ‘did not respond in the way you would expect in a competitive market’ and chose to raise their prices as well.

Meanwhile motorway service stations are charging 15 and 20 pence more per litre for petrol and diesel on average.

“Competition at the pump is not working as well as it should be and something needs to change swiftly to address this,” said Sarah Cardell, the CMA’s chief exec. “It needs to be easier for drivers to compare up to date prices so retailers have to compete harder for their business.”

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As such, the CMA is recommending that the law is changed to force retailers to make their prices available in real time, so they can be tracked online, or with an app or sat nav.

It also wants to create a new monitoring body to keep an eye on what the market is up to.

Cardell added: “As we transition to net zero, the case for ongoing monitoring of this critical market will grow even stronger, so we stand ready to work with the UK government to implement these proposals as quickly as possible.”

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The CMA estimates that drivers could save around £4.50 per tank if they could track prices remotely. What do you reckon, would such a thing change how and when you fill up?

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