The autumn dip in petrol prices failed to stimulate sales and the cost of filling up is rising again, according to the AA.
Drivers in small market and coastal towns are particularly suffering from high prices, with the dearest petrol found in East Anglia and Wales, the AA said.
It added that between mid November and mid December, the average UK price of petrol rose from 130.44p a litre to 131.17p, while diesel increased from 137.78p to 138.61p.
The AA said Government statistics for retail sales and fuel consumption show that, despite this autumn's 7p-a-litre crash in the petrol pump price, petrol sales failed to rebound.
Unlike the aftermath of previous fuel price spikes this year and last year, UK petrol sales in October fell by 26 million litres on the month before.
The AA said the October figure of 1.486 billion litres was only seven million litres more than the slump in March last year when average prices were heading towards the all-time record of 142.48p a litre, reached on April 16, 2012.
AA president Edmund King said: "High pump prices have taught the UK motorist how to save on fuel and the fear is that, although petrol prices are down more than 10p a litre compared to the record of 142.48p, drivers are now applying those savings to shoring up other parts of the family budget, such as rising gas and electricity bills.
"In late November, supermarket petrol in Market Drayton in Shropshire was 6p a litre more expensive than down the road in Stoke-on-Trent."
East Anglia and Wales are paying the most for petrol, averaging 131.4p a litre.
However, drivers in London, south-east England and the West Midlands have come off worst from the temporary rise in wholesale petrol and diesel prices, seeing average costs rise by 1p a litre to take them close to regional highs.
In contrast, drivers in northern England and Yorkshire and Humberside are enjoying the lowest petrol prices with an average of 130.7p a litre.
At least Londoners are buying the cheapest diesel in the country, despite a 1.2p surge in the average cost over the past month, with London now matching Yorkshire and Humberside with an average of 138.4p a litre. Scotland's diesel, the dearest in the UK, averages 139.4p.
Meanwhile, a survey by breakdown company Green Flag showed that 27% will see fewer friends and relatives this Christmas due to the high price of fuel.
The cutback in motoring is most apparent in Wales, while those in Yorkshire and Humberside were the least deterred by rising pump prices.
The survey also showed that the average person will spend £46 on travel this Christmas, with journeys taking an average of two hours.
Around 13% intend to spend more than £80 on travel and 14% will journey for more than five hours.
The AA also highlighted Office for National Statistics figures showing that petrol sales in November had dipped 1% compared with the same month last year.