Petrol Prices: 'Phoney War Is Over' Says AA
The AA has declared an end to what it has called the "phoney petrol price war" among supermarkets after the latest move to bring prices back towards falling wholesale costs.
The motoring organisation, which along with the RAC had accused retailers of being slow to pass on falling wholesale prices, said Sainsbury's decision to reduce pump prices for unleaded by up to 6p a litre from Friday should now mean that recent reductions on supermarket forecourts would be felt by cash-strapped drivers.
Diesel would fall by up to 4p a litre Sainsbury's said - pledging that motorists would pay no more than 129.9p for unleaded and 136.9p for diesel.
Asda later responded and said its prices would fall below the levels offered by Sainsbury's.
But the AA said the cost to motorists currently remained considerably above the level that should be expected given that wholesale prices were now back to where they were at the turn of the year.
Wholesale petrol from the last week of November to the end of December ranged consistently between 45.7p a litre and 44.9p a litre.
The body said that current wholesale costs were just below 45p but drivers were having to pay 4p a litre more now than they were at the end of 2012.
According to the latest Experian Catalist figures, UK average prices for unleaded on Wednesday stood at 136.2p and 141.5p for diesel.
The wholesale costs - the prices retailers pay for fuel - have fallen since the second week of September when the possibility of imminent military intervention over Syria's chemical weapons was defused.
Retailers have insisted they are not ripping-off motorists, arguing that wholesale prices increased so quickly during August and early September that pump prices did not reflect the full scale of the changes.
Paul Watters, head of AA Public Affairs, said: "This weekend, we will have to see whether UK petrol prices get closer to where they were in December when the cost of petrol to the retailer was the same.
"However, with Sainsbury's price cut today, this is looking more hopeful.
"At the start of the year, UK motorists were told officially that there is little evidence of pump prices shooting up like a rocket and falling like a feather."
Highlighting what he said was a continuing postcode lottery of charges Mr Watters continued: "In towns like Newbury, drivers would say they are choking on feathers every time they go to fill up.
"For those who only drive locally, they are hostage to much higher prices."