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Energy Institute finds UK forecourt sector stabilising

Released on 07/04/2017

The UK fuel retail sector has turned a corner, with the long-term trend of forecourt closures stabilising at 8,489 sites operating at the close of 2016, according to 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. This compares to 8,472 sites in 2015 and 8,609 in 2014.

Other key findings of the survey show:

  • UK consumer unleaded petrol prices fell from an average of 111.79 p/l in 2015 to 109.78 p/l in 2016, while the price for diesel fell from 115.04 p/l to 110.52 p/l in 2016.
  • Total road fuel sales for the year were 36.56mn tonnes, slightly lower than 2015’s 37.29mn tonnes.
  • Registered UK vehicle sales continued their record breaking trend, to reach 36.5mn vehicles on the roads by the close of 2016, compared to 35.93mn a year earlier.
  • Each forecourt supplied an average of 4,300 vehicles in 2016.


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-2016 and does not reflect changes since that date. The figures are cross-checked with numbers from market analyst Experian Catalist.

The survey also provides insight into market share:

  • Site number breakdown by fuel retail brand in 2016:
    • BP led the forecourt branding field, topping the listing with 1,278 outlets (the same as in 2015)
    • Esso secured second place, with 1,081 branded sites (1,030 in 2015)
    • Shell was in third position, with 1,029 branded forecourts (1,023 in 2015)
    • exaco was ranked fourth, with 768 branded service stations (820 in 2015)
  • The supermarket sector held 44% market share, accounting for nearly 45% of total UK fuel sales
    • esco – 504 sites (506 in 2015)
    • Morrisons – 333 (336 in 2015)
    • Sainsbury’s – 306 (302 in 2015)
    • Asda – 304 (278 in 2015)
  • The small and unbranded sector, which makes up the balance of the UK network, numbered 710 by year-end (747 in 2015)


This year’s supplement also includes articles looking at how the UK’s independent forecourt operators have been adapting in response to an ever-changing fuel retail market and at some of the ways in which these market changes are influencing dealer expectations of their fuel suppliers. It highlights some of the challenges facing forecourt convenience store operators in the year ahead and notes a call for the fuel supply chain to work with fuel retailers to ensure ‘a fair price for all’. And it reviews the work of the Energy Institute’s Service Station Panel, which develops guidance reflecting good industry practice for the fuel retail sector in the UK and internationally.

For media enquiries please contact Nick Turton on +44 (0)20 7467 7103 or nturton@energyinst.org

The full 2017 Retail Marketing Survey is available to purchase from the Energy Institute. Please contact Chris Baker on +44 (0)20 7467 7114 or cbaker@energyinst.org

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