Sainsbury’s re-opens 100 UK petrol stations as it makes price promise

The supermarket said the move is part of a phased approach that will eventually see all forecourt stores back in business. Until now, customers have been advised to pay via a booth or at the pump, with shoppers unable to pick up essential items from stores.

However, 100 are set to open again with social distancing measures and perspex safety screens in place to safeguard staff and customers. In a statement, the grocer also reiterated its promise to keep prices fair.

“We are encouraging customers to check our store locator for the latest opening hours in their area before they shop. “Fuel is priced locally and we always aim to be competitive.”

Petrol prices have hit an 18-year low over the past month, after a drop in demand due to coronavirus sent shockwaves through the oil industry. Last week prices tumbled to below £1 a litre, but experts say drivers are unlikely to benefit.

The RAC motoring group said it expects forecourts to try to hold their prices to help them stay afloat during a slump in sales of petrol and diesel due to lockdown restrictions on travel.

The global oil price has plummeted to 18-year lows, and in the US it has turned negative for the first time, as demand has been battered by restrictions to curb the spread of Covid-19.

Simon Williams, a spokesman for the RAC, said: “In theory petrol prices could fall below £1 per litre if the lower wholesale costs were reflected at the pumps – but at the same time people are driving very few miles so they’re selling vastly lower quantities of petrol and diesel at the moment. This means many will be at pains not to trim their prices any further.”

Sainsbury’s said that while its fuel prices vary by location, it “aims to keep prices competitive”. When asked, it was unable to give a minimum charge per litre. “We want to ensure our petrol stations remain competitive within their local area, offering customers a fair price wherever they live. We therefore adjust the price at each station using locally gathered pricing information,” the supermarket said.

Customers can also collect Nectar points and get money off coupons when they spend minimum amounts in stores. Sainsbury’s will be introducing a series of new measures to help ease restrictions for shoppers.

The grocer has also launched a new telephone service for vulnerable shoppers, allowing struggling households to place their orders directly over the phone. “We now have five times more staff to deal with this,” boss Mike Coupe said.