Back in 1967, the number of gas stations in the UK hit a record high at 39,958. Flash forward to 2008 and the total had dwindled down to just 9,263. By 2009, despite the fact that the number of registered vehicles had soared past 34 million, total operational gas stations plummeted to a record low of 9,013. In that same year, 179 independent gas stations called it quits and big names like BP, Texaco and Total closed the doors of 64 stations as well.

The decline in operational gas stations in the UK is attributed to rising fuel costs and a recession that has hit the economy hard. Though motorists in the UK may have to drive farther to fill up, industry analysts predict that a full tank will now cost them a bit less and, as gas stations compete to stay alive, falling prices may become the norm. As Arthur Renshaw, account manager of Experian Catalist, experts in retail gasoline operations, remarked, "Unexpectedly, the motorist is emerging as the winner at the end of what has been a painful shakedown for the petrol retail industry."

While low prices can bring joy to motorists, a continued decline in total gasoline stations could become problematic. As Brian Madderson, chairman of RMI Petrol predicts:
I see a continuing decline, perhaps to 7,000-7,500 stations. There are already parts of Britain – Wales, East Anglia, Cornwall – where you have to be sure you have a full tank of fuel before you venture there. If you're going on holiday you have to pack your suitcase, your golf clubs and two canisters of petrol, just in case.
If predictions hold true, motorists in the UK may pay less per gallon of gas, but be inconvenienced by having to drive further to get it. As we see it, that additional driving would burn more gas, potentially offsetting any savings seen at the pump, right?
Hat tip to Andy!

[Source: Telegraph | Image: Orin Zebest – C.C. License 2.0]