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EI: UK forecourt closures on the up

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Hydrocarbon Engineering,

The latest Retail Marketing Survey, conducted by the Energy Institute (EI) and published as a supplement to the EI's April issue of Petroleum Review, indicates that the trend for forecourt closures has begun to pick up again. The total number of forecourts in the UK at the close of 2015 stands at 8472 sites, compared with 8609 sites in 2014, a 1.59% decrease (compared with a fall of just 0.02% a year earlier, and a drop of 0.94% in 2013).

UK consumer fuel prices experienced a significant downward trend in response to falling oil prices, dropping from an average of 128.18 p/l for petrol in 2014 to 111.79 p/l in 2015. This fell further, to under £1/l in early 2016, although it has begun to rise slightly at the end of this first quarter. The price for diesel fell from 133.82 p/l in 2014 to 115.04 p/l in 2015.

Meanwhile, petrol sales remained fairly stable at 12.78 million t by year-end (from 12.56 million t at the close of 2014), and diesel sales rose to 15.72 million t (up from 15.16 million t). Total 2015 road fuel sales for the year were 37.29 million t. Registered UK vehicles once again broke records in 2015, to reach 35.93 million, with each forecourt supplying an average of 4241 vehicles.

?The annual Retail Marketing Survey provides a comprehensive, statistical overview of the UK forecourt market. Data is broken down by company, region and forecourt facilities. This year’s survey is based on statistics relating to end-2015 and does not reflect changes since that date. The figures are cross checked with numbers from market analyst Experian Catalist.

?Key findings of the survey show:

  • There were 8472 operational filling stations in the UK at end-December 2015.
  • Retail petrol sales remained fairly stable at 12.78 million t by the close of 2015 – from 12.56 million at end-2014.
  • Retail diesel sales totalled 15.72 million t by year-end – from 15.16 million t a year earlier.
  • Total 2015 road fuel sales rose slightly to 37.29 million t – up from 36.39 million t in 2014.
  • By the close of 2015, unleaded petrol prices had averaged 111.79 p/l (versus 128.18 p/l in 2014); while diesel prices closed the year at an average price of 115.04 p/l (versus 133.82 p/l).
  • Registered UK vehicles once again broke records, rising from 35.89 million in 2014 to reach 35.93 million by end-2015, with each forecourt supplying an average of 4241 vehicles.

Site number breakdown by fuel retail brands in 2015:

  • BP led the forecourt branding field, topping the listing with 1278 outlets (1163 in 2014).
  • Esso secured second place, with 1030 branded sites (1012 in 2014).
  • Shell was close behind, in third position, with 1023 branded forecourts (1019 in 2014).
  • Texaco was ranked fourth, with 820 branded service stations (773 in 2014).

The supermarket sector held 44% market share, accounting for just over 43% of total UK fuel sales:

  • Tesco – 506 sites (504 in 2014).
  • Morrisons – 336 (332 in 2014).
  • Sainsbury’s – 302 (298 in 2014).
  • Asda – 278 (246 in 2014).

Adapted from press release by Rosalie Starling

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