For stock reasons, some pumps will not be able to offer the reduction of 15 cents per litre, at the risk of losing customers.
This is a drop eagerly awaited by motorists. A discount of 15 centimes per liter will be put in place from Friday 1 April for a period of four months. In reality, it can go up to 18 cents including tax, a difference which is explained by the amount of VAT applied in the various French territories. “The VAT being 20% on the continent in Metropolitan France, the discount at the pump will be 18 cents per liter including tax for the consumer. It will be around 17 cents in Corsica where the VAT is 13% and 15 cents in Overseas, where there is no VAT on petroleum products.details the Ministry of Ecological Transition.
But not all gas stations will be able to apply the discount. And for good reason, they must first empty their tanks to restock with fuel sold at a lower price. Indeed, it is not the stations but their suppliers who apply the reduction of 15 cents. The fuel that they are going to buy from them will therefore already be at a discounted price, unlike that which is currently in their tanks. It is only once all this stock has been sold that they will be able to supply themselves again at a better price.
Everything therefore depends on their ability to sell their fuel quickly. “It can take between two days and, in extreme cases, three weeks. It’s a question of throughput: a service station that doesn’t have a lot of customers will take longer to use up its stock, unlike motorway and mass retail stations that will be able to restock very quickly.”explain to Figaro Frédéric Plan, General Delegate of the French Federation of Combustibles, Fuels and Heating (FF3C), which notably represents independent distribution companies. He fears that the pumps with less passage will take all the longer to sell their stocks as they will post a higher price than the others, for lack of being able to fill their tanks with cheaper fuel.
The balance of competition upset
In general, the union is concerned about the repercussions on pump attendants of the high price volatility. “The rate fluctuations observed over the past three weeks and the discount that will be applied from April 1 upset the balance of competition, particularly penalizing independent suburban or rural stations”says Frédéric Plan. “If you are unlucky enough to stock up on a day when prices are high and the pump near you fills its tanks the next day when prices have fallen, it will be able to post a lower price” and therefore attract more customers, he points out. A price difference that “can reach more than 30 cents”making “unsaleable” the most expensive gasoline.
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For customers, the gesture announced by Jean Castex on March 12 will be indicated by a display on the pump and will be mentioned on the invoice if they request one. And among gas station attendants who can boast of offering fuel 15 cents cheaper on April 1, expect “large queues” predicts Franck Plan. Especially since it’s a Friday “and motorists’ tanks risk being empty”. But special measures should be taken to avoid any shortage of stock, he says, mentioning in particular the possibility for resupply tankers to run on Sundays.