After three months of falling pump prices in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic the average cost of fuel shot up in June with a litre of unleaded increasing by nearly 4p from 107.11p to 110.85p (3.74p), new RAC Fuel Watch data reveals.
Diesel rose by just under 3p a litre (2.89p) from 112.07p to 114.96p as the price of oil strengthened by more than $6 from $35.48 to $41.87. The forecourt rises mean a 55-litre tank of petrol has gone up by £2 to £60.97 (from £58.91 at the start of June) and the diesel equivalent by £1.59 to £63.23 (£61.64 at the start of June).
These prices are a blow to drivers who have got used to seeing some unusually low pump prices. The global coronavirus travel restrictions led to oil crashing to $13.21 a barrel in late April which in turn caused the price of a litre of petrol to come down to an average low of 106.48p and diesel to 111.8p on 19 May. This was brought about by Asda, Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons all selling petrol for an average of £1 a litre from mid-May to the end of the month. Diesel’s average low at the supermarkets was 105.5p over the same period.
And in June it is the big four supermarkets that appear to have driven the price rises, with the most marked increases being seen at Morrisons. It went from having the cheapest petrol and diesel at the start of June to the most expensive of the major supermarkets, putting up both fuels by 7p a litre with unleaded going from 99.7p to 106.7p and diesel from 104.7p to 111.49p. Asda also increased its petrol price steeply by adding 6.5p, pushing up a litre from 99.91p to 106.42p. This meant by the end of June Sainsbury’s had both the cheapest supermarket petrol and diesel at 104.42p and 109.01p respectively.
RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams said: “The pump price rises witnessed in June will have been a nasty shock to the system for drivers. While those who continued to drive regularly throughout the pandemic will have benefitted from some very low prices, millions won’t have so will be disappointed that just as they start to drive more again prices are on the up. It is, of course, the lack of demand for fuel which caused prices to drop in the first place so sadly it’s no great surprise that they’re on the rise again now.
“But drivers should take quite a lot of comfort from the fact that both petrol and diesel are a whopping 17p a litre cheaper than they were at the end of January. That means a tank of fuel is on average £9 less than it was then.”