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Fuel and petrol stations in the UK - statistics & facts

The first fuel stations, also referred to as petrol stations in the United Kingdom, were established with the invention of the motorcar in the 1880s in Germany, with England opening its first commercial station in 1919. Today, petrol stations often come with a retail store attached, selling lubricants, motor oils, and consumer goods apart from different automotive fuel types. Despite the UK being Europe's second largest car market, the country only ranks sixth in terms of number of petrol stations in Europe. Italy is home to the greatest number of such sites, with figures roughly 2.5 times the number reported for the UK.

Number of operational fuel stations in decline

From 2000 to 2021, over 35 percent of UK petrol stations closed, although the rate at which numbers decreased had slowed by 2010. Figures fell to their lowest point by late 2021, when only 8,378 sites were operational or in development. The independent distributor Certas Energy saw the most petrol station closures of any brand, with 14 stations being made obsolete between 2020 and 2021. By comparison, Shell had opened 36 new petrol stations, more than any other brand.

UK has one of the highest fuel prices in Europe

The UK is one of the most expensive countries for diesel fuel sales in Europe. As of February 2022, diesel fuel costs averaged around 1.51 British pounds per liter. Taxes and duties in the UK account for 83 pence per liter, more than in any other European country, with the pre-tax price at 68 pence per liter. The average UK diesel price saw a net increase in the last five years, reaching 151.6 British pence per liter in February 2022 – a high largely due to the developing Russia-Ukraine war.

Supermarkets consistently offered the most competitive prices. In 2021, diesel bought at supermarket affiliated stores was nearly four pence cheaper per liter when compared to the UK mean. It is thus unsurprising that supermarkets are also among the leading UK petrol station brands when looking at fuel sales for passenger cars and light commercial vehicles. Of the leading five brands, four are supermarket chains, with Sainsbury coming in first, having sold 11,773 kiloliters per forecourt in 2021.

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