SCOTS drivers experienced a "rotten month" while paying nearly £6 more to fill up a typical family car than they should be, a new analysis has revealed.

Scots drivers have seen only a 2p cut to average fuel prices - despite cuts in wholesale prices meriting bigger savings, according to the motoring organisation, the RAC.

So says the RAC who say that drivers across the UK lost out on £156m as retailers refused to pass on wholesale price savings to consumers.

Unleaded in Scotland dropped from 147.01p a litre to 145.01p in December with the RAC saying drivers should really have seen prices nearer to 135p had retailers "played fair" instead of taking far bigger margins than normal.

Diesel in Scotland dropped by just under 2p a litre from 150.81p to 148.66p when drivers should have been paying around 142p.

It comes as Scottish households face energy bill hikes of as much as 50% in the spring as the UK faces a “national crisis” over soaring wholesale gas and electricity prices.

The trade body Energy UK has called on the UK government to intervene to help cut the cost of bills amid predictions that the price cap could easily exceed £2,000 a year.


RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams said: “December was a rotten month for drivers as they were taken advantage of by retailers who rewrote their pump price strategy, costing motorists millions of pounds as a result.

"Their resistance to cutting prices and to only pass on a fraction of the savings they were making from lower wholesale costs is nothing short of scandalous. The 10p extra retailers have added to their long-term margin of 6p a litre has led to petrol car drivers paying £5m more a day than they previously would have.

“In the past when wholesale prices have dropped retailers have always done the right thing –eventually – and reduced their pump prices. This time they’ve stood strong, taking advantage of all the media talk about ‘higher energy prices’ and banked on the oil price rising again and catching up with their artificially inflated prices, which it has now done.

“The trouble is every extra penny they take as margin leads to drivers paying even more as VAT gets added on top at the end of the forecourt transaction. This means the Treasury’s coffers have been substantially boosted on the back of the retailers’ action. We urge ministers to push retailers into doing the right thing for consumers."

According to the RAC, the price of a litre of unleaded on the wholesale market, including delivery, averaged 106p across the month. Had a 6p margin been taken drivers would have seen an average petrol pump price of around 135p after applying VAT at 20%. The average wholesale cost of delivered diesel was 112p a litre which, with the usual 6p retailer margin, would have given a pump price of around 142p.


The RAC said this has meant it has cost car drivers using unleaded paying nearly £6 more to fill up a typical 55-litre family car than it should have. For diesel it was nearly £4 more with a tank costing £82 at the end of the month instead of £78.

The RAC estimates retailers’ refusal to reflect lower wholesale prices at the pumps cost petrol car drivers in the UK a huge £156m in December, or the equivalent of £5m a day.

A UK analysis of RAC Fuel Watch data reveals Asda had the cheapest petrol at the end of the year with a litre costing an average of 141.81p at their stores, with Sainsbury’s not far behind at 142.57p.

Asda also sold the lowest priced diesel at 144.9p a litre ahead of Tesco on 145.8p. The average price of motorway unleaded at the close of December was 160.55p while diesel was higher still at 163.43p.

Gordon Balmer, executive director of the Petrol Retailers Association, said: “December’s pump price data is less reliable because it is taken from fuel card transactions, and there have been far fewer of these transactions because of the reduction in business activity between Christmas and New Year. With pump prices falling towards the end of the month, car drivers travelling over the holiday period are likely to have benefited more than these figures suggest.

“While the retail fuel market remains extremely competitive, supermarkets did not use artificially low fuel prices to lure shoppers into their stores at Christmas.  The costs of running petrol stations rose all year, with electricity up 19%,  vastly reduced margins from fuel cards, increased national insurance and wage inflation.

“The latest volume figures as supplied by BEIS (Business Energy and Industrial Strategy) reveal that for most of December volumes were running at 90% of pre pandemic levels, and for week ending 26/12/21 at 78%. When volumes fall and operating costs are rising, it makes sense for fuel retailers to raise margins if they are remain in business to serve their customers.”