This week, Tesco started offering shoppers a 5p-a-litre saving on fuel when they spend £50 or more in store and accompanied the promotion with press ads highlighting the fact that customers can use their Clubcard vouchers on fuel.
Indies warned that although it was not the first time Tesco had run the deal, the timing of the current promotion could not have been worse as fuel prices were at record levels.
The deal could prompt other multiples to follow suit and spark a price war that independents would not be able to compete in, they warned. "It is the final nail in the coffin for some indies who don't have a good shop offer," warned one indie forecourt retailer.
Another admitted: "There's no way I can compete. It's hard enough as it is getting people to come to us over the mults."
However, Paul Delves, MD of Harry Tuffins, said good indie operators would thrive. "This is an old idea," he said. "We have been giving 10p a litre off when spending £60 permanently for the past five years."
Jonathan James, MD of James Graven, is offering shoppers 5p off a litre of petrol at his Ely forecourt when they spend at least £50 at his Soham Budgens.
Meanwhile, Euro Garages the forecourt retailer that named former Asda CEO Andy Bond non-executive chairman last month plans to extend its 84-site estate by 40 sites this year.
"We have raised significant funding to take part in the ongoing sector consolidation," said financial director Martin Ashcroft.