Petrol pump sales have decreased by more than 20% over the past five years, according to research by the AA, which shows that just 17bn litres were sold last year, in comparison to 22bn litres sold in 2007.

Rising prices and the increase in diesel-powered vehicles has been seen as the major reasons for this fall in consumption.

The sharp rise in petrol prices has put consumers off using their cars as much, with Petrol Retailers Association Chairman Brian Madderson commenting: “It’s amazing to think that just four years ago, in spring 2009, petrol was £1 a litre. For £20 you could get 20 litres. Today when you spend £20 at the forecourt you get less than 15 litres.”

Last year, over half of vehicles on the road were diesel compared to just 10% at the turn of the century, showing that road users are opting for an alternative to the petrol powered car. In addition to this, the rise of smaller petrol cars on the road has contributed to the decline in sales.

Sales of diesel have gone up from 14bn litres in 2007 to 16bn litres last year.

As more families struggle with their finances, many have resorted to leaving their cars at home for unnecessary journeys too, sparking the lull in fuel consumption.

AA President, Edmund King said of petrol prices: “The trouble is that, with global economic recovery, the stock market will predict greater oil and fuel demand and push up commodity values accordingly.”