PLUNGING petrol prices have failed to push up purchases at the pumps, according to Government figures highlighted by the AA.

Petrol sales fell by 4.2% in the last three months of 2013 compared with the same period in 2012, the statistics showed.

The big four supermarkets - Tesco, Sainsbury's, Morrisons and Asda - were hit hardest with a 4.9% reduction while other retailers saw sales fall 3.6%.

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During this October-December 2013 period the average price of petrol in the UK fell from a late summer peak of 138.38p a litre to a low of 130.13p, before hovering around the 131p level for the rest of the year.

Overall, petrol demand in 2013 fell by more than 850 million litres, equivalent to 19 days consumption.

However, diesel sales fared better in the last three months of last year, rising 2%, with the big-four supermarkets enjoying a 2.8% increase.

For the whole of last year, diesel sales increased by 1.8% compared with 2012. This added more than 450 million litres to demand or the equivalent of an extra week's consumption.