The soaring cost of diesel has played havoc with wafer-thin profits, forcing many to pass on price increases just as customers were calling for price cuts.
Fuel has also been responsible for a great deal of the price volatility experienced by shoppers on supermarket shelves in the past two years.
But it's on the forecourt that the most contentious battle is being fought. While all the supermarkets have adopted a single, national pricing policy on groceries, only Asda claimed to offer a single, national price at the pump. And it continually generates media stories lambasting rivals who don't do the same.
Well, the sermon at the pump needs to stop. The differential we found was as much as three pence per litre on unleaded, and two pence on diesel. Even for stores just 10 miles apart. In the small print of its 2006 submission to the Competition Commission, it explains the tolerances permissible within its policy. Funny how it never mentions this to customers, or the media.
Asda ‘national’ fuel price varies by 3ppl (4 February 2010)