High petrol prices are causing high street strife

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Extortionate petrol prices are being blamed for a fall in high-street spending, with supermarket giant Tesco and The AA's president Edmund King both saying costly fuel is hitting takings.

Tesco saw a slight fall in sales over the last three months, and said that some UK customers are having to "direct some of their spending to petrol at the expense of their normal shopping".

Meanwhile, the president of The AA, Edmund King, said that the price of fuel is preventing the economy from recovering and called for a cut in duty.

"The Government promised a fuel price stabiliser before the Election," he said. "If ever there was a time for something to be done about the high cost of fuel, it's now.

"Motorists are cutting back on journeys and Tesco and Sainsbury's are saying people are cutting back on food. Fuel is dampening economic growth."

A spokesman for the AA said it was hard to say exactly how low the government should go in cutting prices, but said that the falls in crude oil costs should be passed on. Prices did fall when oil costs were reduced, but the AA says it should have fallen by a further 2p a litre.

The spokesman also called for more transparency about the price of fuel, saying: "Oil was 15-20 percent more expensive in 2008, even though pump prices were lower." Petrol cost around 118p a litre in June 2008, while diesel was around 130p a litre.

The AA has called for a regulator to expose where the extra cost comes from in today's prices.

"Without transparency in the oil and fuel markets and a regulator to ensure fair prices, drivers, consumers and the nation are open to being ripped off by whoever wants to make an extra buck," says Edmund King.

Tesco said that its sales fell by 0.1 percent in the 13 weeks up to May 28 compared to the same time last year, although this was an improvement on the previous quarter's fall of 0.7 percent.