Speaking during a debate on Fuel Prices, Mrs Long raised concerns that supermarkets across Northern Ireland charge different prices at their forecourts, basing prices on the level of local competition instead. This strategy can result in prices being up to six pence per litre higher at some store locations than other forecourts operating under the same brand, including Tesco, ASDA and Sainsbury’s
Naomi Long MP called for an OFT investigation into fuel prices and also urged supermarkets to introduce a policy that sees an end to irregular pricing in favour of fuel being priced the same at all petrol stations across Northern Ireland.
She said: “Northern Ireland has amongst the highest fuel prices in Europe and I think that it is vital that everything is done to ensure that all consumers in Northern Ireland pay a fair price for fuel especially given the current economic climate.
“Over recent times, I have been increasingly frustrated at the failure of some local supermarkets to operate a consistent pricing policy across Northern Ireland. The Consumer Council has highlighted examples where the same supermarket charges up to six pence per litre more at some locations than others, whilst earlier this year I found that Tesco was charging motorists in East Belfast four pence per litre more than those living in Newtownards.
“There is no excuse for this differential and the failure of supermarkets to charge a single regional price across Northern Ireland impacts on overall prices, as whilst they represent only 4 percent of forecourts, they have approximately a 25 percent market share.
“It is another example of the lack of transparency in fuel pricing and makes it difficult for consumers to shop around for the best deal.
“I would encourage all supermarkets operating in Northern Ireland to end their current practice of differential pricing and help reduce our fuel costs which would help make our economy more competitive.”