Record fuel prices and austerity has led to dip in petrol and diesel sales

Petrol and diesel sales at garages fall

Motorists bought one billion fewer litres of petrol and diesel in the first quarter of 2011 compared with 2008.

Service stations sold 835 million fewer litres of petrol and 247 million fewer litres of diesel in January to March 2011 than in the same period three years earlier, pre-credit crunch.

The AA attributed the 15.2 per cent dip in petrol sales and the six per cent fall in diesel sales to austerity and record fuel prices, where petrol increased by 7.94p a litre and diesel by 10.51p a litre in the first quarter of 2011.

This drop in sales corresponded to a loss of £637m in tax revenues for the Treasury.

"The full impact of higher VAT, unbridled stock market speculation and a weaker pound on fuel prices and drivers' ability to afford them have been laid bare," said AA president Edmund King.

"The first three months of this year saw the equivalent of 13.5 days of UK petrol sales wiped out - good for the environment but appalling for families, business, rural communities and the Treasury."

Soaring petrol and diesel prices have continued to set new records up to the second week of May, King added, with petrol increasing by a further 4.3p a litre and diesel by 3.3p.

"Supermarkets have launched a sustained campaign of fuel-related promotions and combined with a loss of appetite among oil market speculators leading to falling oil prices, the next quarter's figures will be significant," King said.

"Will drivers' finances show some resilience or have car-owning family budgets been so badly wounded that recovery needs a far greater stimulus?"

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