The nation’s independent petrol stations must fight just to survive the next few months, according to a trade body.
Across the UK thousands of small, often family owned, rural petrol stations are desperately trying to stay open to provide fuel to all their regular, essential frontline customers working as nurses, doctors, midwives, carers and many more key jobs.
“These petrol stations have been hit very hard by the biggest, fastest drop in demand that any of us has ever witnessed” said Brian Madderson, Chairman of the Petrol Retailers Association (PRA).
“For some of our members, this drop has been as much as 85% of normal volume leading to a huge cash flow crisis. The sector is unique, with over 70% of income taken by the Government through fuel duty and VAT. There is a Cash Grant of £25,000 available to small and medium size petrol stations, but this is swallowed by the next delivery, with a tanker needing over £26,000 just to pay the tax.”
It is no wonder that up to 100 petrol stations, mainly in rural areas, have already had to close their doors and those remaining have had to reduce their opening hours during the pandemic, with staff lost to Covid-19 symptoms or having to self-isolate with their families.
Madderson continues, “There is speculation from some motoring organisations and lobby groups that UK fuel prices will tumble fast as a result of the historic event in North America yesterday, when the value of oil moved into negative territory.”
“However, with such low demand for road fuel, most petrol stations would risk their financial viability if they had to reduce prices still further. Instead of 100 closures, we could see 1000 – severely disadvantaging so many of the essential frontline workers.
“The target remains to keep open and provide continuity of service.”