Petrol sales are set to slump further this year as consumers tighten their belts following a tough financial year in 2011, an AA survey has found.
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The Automobile Association said drivers are being forced to cutback on motoring because of soaring fuel prices.
It predicted sales at the pumps in the first nine months of this year to be lower than the 13.9 billion litres recorded in the same period last year.
Last year’s sales were already down one billion litres from the January to September period a year earlier.
The figures are in stark contrast to the 16.3 billion litres sold at service stations across the UK in the pre-recession period in 2008.
Nearly 40% of the 20,000 AA members surveyed said they would either drive more economically or drive less often in 2012.
AA public affairs head Paul Watters said: “Drivers are clearly being forced into cutting their motoring by the high price of fuel and, for many, this will impose difficult constraints on their lives.
“We have reached the stage where motoring is once again only easily affordable for the better off and, with the car still the mainstay means of travel for the majority, that is depressing news at the start of 2012.”
He added: “The impact of high fuel prices on ordinary drivers is staggering, with just over a quarter of those choosing a New Year resolution saying they would drive more economically and a further 10% intending to drive less.
“This far exceeded the 12% going for road safety-related resolutions, perhaps because the cost of motoring threatens the way they live their lives.”
The AA said it was drivers from the lower socio-economic groups that intended to be most economical with petrol.
Regionally, drivers in south-west England and Northern Ireland were most resolved to cut back on car use, while those least determined on being more economical were those in London.