For most people, everyday interaction with our industry happens on the forecourt. With around 8,400 filling stations located across the UK, marketing and retail is a vital part downstream oil sector both in terms of supply to the consumer and employment across the country.

Filling stations

Over time the downstream oil retail sector has changed considerably. Petrol retailing is a highly competitive business, a trend that has accelerated during the 1990s to now, with a number of significant players in the UK retail fuels market.

The growing presence of supermarkets has led to a significant change for the sector, with their share of the retail fuels market growing from 11% in 1992 to around 43% in 2022.

The supermarkets' growth in market share has coincided with a rapid expansion in their large out-of-town stores, whilst smaller and more remote filling stations have closed, with the number of filling stations in the UK falling from about 19,000 in 1990 to 8,380 in 2022.

Nonetheless, the positive economic impact of filling stations across the UK is widely felt.

84,000 people were employed in fuel filling stations in 2022.

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In light of increased competition, fuel retailers have led the way in redeveloping their sites to boost volume throughput and provide an improved standard of service and facilities, with a particular emphasis on larger shops or convenience stores which are a vital element in overall site profitability.

Over the course of the last two decades, the role of the forecourt 'shop' has changed markedly from being a small kiosk that stocked oil and consumables for the motorist, to today's convenience-type store. With the total value of convenience forecourt sales at an estimated £4.8 billion in 2022, this represents an increasingly important source of revenue in which forecourt operators are well placed to share.

Non-retail markets

Although the retailing of fuels on the filling station forecourt is a familiar everyday feature, a similar volume of fuel and other products are sold to a wide range of customers from airlines to industrial users and from public sector operators to the military.

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