Rural petrol stations could close as coronavirus keeps customers away
PUBLISHED: 10:00 10 April 2020
Lockdown causes dangerous drop in demand for fuel at smaller garages
Motorists are being warned that rural petrol stations are at risk of closure as demand for fuel has significantly decreased since people were told to stay at home because of Covid-19.
The Petrol Retailers Association (PRA) says that petrol consumption is down 75pc and diesel by 71pc, with stations in rural areas being hit particularly hard. It could lead to such stations closing “as sales of fuel dry up and their businesses become unviable”.
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Gavin Taber, who owns the Roydon Service Station on the Norfolk/Suffolk border, said: “Petrol sales have dropped off by about 70pc. Our convenience store has been very busy and we’ve had fantastic support from our local customers – but the petrol sales are very bad at the moment.”
The PRA says it is working to keep “a strategic network of petrol stations open across the country” and encourages motorists to support their local station but to check it is open before going to fill up.
On top of reduced demand, the PRA says some forecourts are facing staff shortages as employees fall ill, self-isolate or look after vulnerable relatives. Smaller petrol stations also face fierce competition from supermarkets offering big discounts because their footfall has been so much higher recently.
This is on top of the biggest fall in petrol prices for 12 years, with further cuts expected in the coming weeks. The PRA has also called on the government to step in and instruct fuel suppliers to give independent stations the same 60-day credit terms they offer to supermarkets. It warns that inflexible delivery loads and credit terms by suppliers aren’t helping struggling independent garages.
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