It had to happen sooner or later: high fuel prices and an ailing economy have finally forced motorists to drive less and plan their journeys better ñ saving themselves a lot of money in the process.
Sales of diesel and petrol declined by 1.7 billion litres during the six months that ended on the 30th June 2011.
The Treasury is no doubt in two minds about all this: on the one hand they want to preserve valuable foreign exchange, but on the other hand the decline in fuel sales has cost them a cool £1 billion in lost revenue.
The AA says diesel and petrol sales are dropping because of high prices. Sales of petrol dropped by a nearly unbelievable 186.5 million litres during the first 3 months of this year. During the second quarter things got even worse with sales dropping by a further 330 million litres.
Diesel sales were more resilient and dropped by only 31.2 million litres over the six month period, compared to a year ago.
The full picture only becomes clear if one compares current sales with that of three years ago, before the recession really started to bite. Compared to the first 6 months of 2008, diesel and petrol sales dropped by a staggering 1.7 billion litres during the same period this year.
Edmund King, the president of the AA, said ìThere is no downplaying the impact of record fuel prices on family's and other peopleís lives. A 1.7-billion-litre drop in petrol sales says just one thing "too many car owners cannot afford these record prices".
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