At least 1,000 UK petrol forecourts now have licences to sell alcohol following a leap in the number of successful applications this year.
Chris Mitchener, general manager of licensing specialist Lockett and Co, said: "We made a total of 284 applications over the year to the end of 2001, and we have already done another 175 in nine months in 2002. I'd say the overall total of licensed forecourts in the UK is now over 1,000."
Tesco is one operator aggressively pursuing licences on forecourts following trials of licensed areas at three Express sites at the end of 2000.
It has now introduced a chilled beers, wines and spirits section near the tills at 47 of its 85 petrol forecourt Express sites.
A Tesco spokesman said: " We want to get more where possible and are seeking licences when we open new sites.
"Express is a convenience store and we want to provide customers with the choice of a range of top up shopping services."
The UK's eight biggest oil companies, as well as a large number of independents, all now operate licensed forecourts. BP has tied in with First Quench for concessions at 175 of its forecourt stores.
Shell has 12 licensed stores, with 50 applications in the pipeline.
A petrol station operator has to prove that the primary use of the premises is not the sale of petrol to get a licence to sell beers, wines and spirits in the attached retail outlet.