Stephen Pond/PA Wire

A cut-down on car travel during the summer Olympics period contributed to a reduction in petrol purchasing in the first nine months of the year, it has been revealed.

The equivalent of five days of petrol consumption was lost during the Olympics, according to AA analysis of Government figures.

Sales were down around 5.6 per cent for the July-September period compared with the same time last year.

Overall, petrol sales in the first nine months of this year were down 4.6 per cent to 13.11bn litres.

But diesel sales for the same period were up 2.1 per cent to 12.22bn litres.

AA public affairs head Paul Watters said: "For once, the drain in fuel sales wasn't solely down to record pump prices forcing hard-up UK families to cut back on car use.

"From the end of July to the beginning of September, drivers had a joyful reason to reduce their fuel consumption."

Watters added: "Unfortunately, it was the lull before the storm. Through September, stock market speculators made the most of two refinery fires in the Americas and refinery maintenance schedules elsewhere to drive the wholesale price of petrol 10p a litre above the summer low, before it crashed back down in October."

The AA said that latest figures showed the average price of petrol in the UK is 131.99p a litre, with diesel at 139.80p.