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The discretionary use of cars


Posted At: 25 March 2011 12:20 PM
Related Categories: Retail Statistics


ONS published their Retail Sales figures for February yesterday.  SnapShop always has a look and comments on the Value of Retail Sales, particularly the differentiation between Food and Non-Food stores.  We usually focus more on Value, than Volume – after all, what we’re having to pay is what we’re having to pay – and we usually ignore the column on Automotive Fuel.  However, yesterday’s figures raised an interesting point, particularly in the light of the Budget concession on petrol prices.  One expects the Value of Automotive Fuel to have increased (it has, substantially, with a year-on-year increase of 18.7%), but it is interesting that the Volume of Automotive Fuel sold in February increased Year on Year by 3.2%. Shouldn’t we all be using our cars less?

The 3 month moving average for Automotive Fuel has dropped every month since early 2008.  However, the February Year on Year upturn followed an even larger, 6.5%, Year on Year increase in January.  Perhaps a turning point has been reached, driven either by an upturn in the economy, so far unrecognised elsewhere, or that the discretionary use of cars has now reached a new, lower level.  From personal experience, it seems that public transport, particularly trains, and the use of bicycles, particularly in London, have both increased over the last 3 years.

With Volume and Value both increasing, and despite the nod to the situation by Mr Osborne (albeit obliterated at the pumps by a pre-emptive strike by petrol companies) the government will be raking it in, which will be good news for the non-car drivers.

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The opinions expressed herein are the personal opinion of the author and are not intended as statements of fact and do not represent the view of SnapShop or Pragma in any way.


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