Panic buying causes fuel sales slump

Fuel sales ‘slump following panic buying’

Strikes over Easter were ruled out by unions

11 April 2012 Last updated at 12:50

Easter petrol sales were down by almost a third on last year in the wake of recent panic buying, retailers say.

The Retail Motor Industry (RMI), which represents 5,000 independent petrol stations, said poor weather also meant fewer people had taken to the roads.

Unleaded petrol sales were 29% down on Easter 2011. Diesel fell by 2.9%, super diesel 60% and super unleaded by 39%.

Panic buying started after ministers urged people to stock up amid threats of a strike by tanker drivers.
Struggled to cope

The RMI’s Brian Madderson said a key factor in the sales slump was that drivers already had full tanks “from purchases made during the panic buying period”.

“Although the wintry weather over Easter was a factor, panic buying was so high it was clearly as big and as deep as we indicated it would be at the time,” Mr Madderson said.

Garages struggled to cope with the number of motorists filling up their cars and petrol cans at the end of March.

The government was criticised for giving “poor advice” after long queues at fuel forecourts across the country.

The AA said the fuel shortages were “self-inflicted” and the Labour Party called for Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude to resign for advising motorists to fill jerry cans and keep them in their garages.

Talks aimed at resolving the tanker drivers’ dispute have resumed.

Unite union officials spent Tuesday negotiating with representatives from six haulage firms. The talks are being chaired by conciliation service Acas.

Chief conciliator Peter Harwood said: “I am encouraged that talks are continuing and that the parties are committed to finding a way forward.”

The year-long dispute between drivers and the haulage companies is over health and safety and terms and conditions. It came to a head when Unite said drivers at five firms had voted for strike action.

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