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Home working could be here to stay, fuel sales suggest

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Fuel sales at filling stations across the UK are still 23% below pre-lockdown levels, despite restrictions being eased, according to latest government figures.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s latest data revealed daily diesel sales are still 20% down than before lockdown, while petrol sales are 26% lower than would be expected. Sales now stand at 13, 670 litres and 5,360 litres respectively.

Average sales per filling station have only gradually increased since mid-April and in the week ending July 5, were up just 3.2% compared to the previous week.

Greg Wilson, founder of Quotezone.co.uk, said: “As the lockdown begins to ease we’ve been expecting to see the level of road use across Great Britain start to climb back up – especially with reduced use of public transport, but this newly published data shows that we’re still quite a long way off pre-lockdown levels.

“Although the move to step 3 in the government’s recovery plan saw the most significant easing of lockdown measures in England so far, it only came into effect on July 4, so it’s likely we’ll see road use gradually increase a little more in the weeks ahead.”

A loss of confidence in public transport looks set to change how employees will travel to work as the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown eases, new research has found.

Lockdown measures employed during the coronavirus crisis have resulted in thousands of fleet managers running vehicles from their homes.

A recent Fleet News survey revealed the majority of fleet decision-makers – close to three-quarters (73.4%) – said they were working from home; one in 10 were dividing their working day between the office and home, and just 15.4% were still in the office full-time.

Meanwhile, a Fleet News poll suggests that for many, some two-thirds (66%) of respondents, working from home will become their new ‘normal’.

While pubs, restaurants, hairdressers, hotels, outdoor gyms, museums, galleries, cinemas, places of worship, community centres and libraries are now allowed to open, Wilson says the road fuel sales data suggests many people are still cautious.

Wilson said: “The very modest 3.2% week-on-week rise in fuel sales suggests many motorists are still cautious, in which case it might be the autumn or later before the traffic on Britain’s roads is back to pre-lockdown levels – particularly since government guidance still states that anyone who is able to work from home should continue to do so for the time being.

“While this isn’t good news for petrol station owners, there is a financial upside for office workers who plan to continue working from home, because it means they could continue to save an average of £108 per month on road fuel during that time.”

In the eight weeks prior to lockdown being imposed on March 23, average daily road fuel sales were 17,690 litres per filling station.

The lowest average daily figure recorded was 2,500 litres, on April 12, at the peak of the pandemic. 

Figures for the first part of the lockdown from March 23 to May 10 were down 71% on pre-lockdown fuel sales.

The report used petrol and diesel sales figures from 4,500 filling stations, which make up over 50% of petrol stations in Great Britain. The study covered the period from January 27, 2020 to July 05, 2020.

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