Concerns over panic buying of petrol in the UK led to a spike in canister sales over the weekend, Halfords said.
The retailer saw the term “jerry can” become the fourth-highest search term on its website, with online interest in the products increasing by 1,136 percent compared to the previous week.
And it says sales were 17 times higher than the previous weekend, as selfish drivers rushed to stock up on fuel after concerns over truck drivers’ shortages spilled over into queues outside gas stations for the past four days.
And the massive spike in sales, despite assurances that there will be no shortage of petrol or diesel in refineries, has led to warnings that some drivers are inadvertently breaking the rules by carrying excess fuel in their cars or storing too much at home.
Will there be a jerry can shortage soon? Halfords says sales of jerry cans have surged over the weekend, while some online stockers have completely sold them out amid UK panic buying
While it is completely legal to fill canisters of petrol or diesel at petrol stations, although it is potentially antisocial to carry more than is necessary when some drivers are struggling to fill up, there are strict rules about how much can be on your private property preserved property.
According to the Health and Safety Executive, you are legally allowed to store up to 30 gallons of gasoline at home or away from work without notifying the appropriate authorities.
The AA advises people not to consider carrying excess fuel in their vehicles, or to consider storing it at home.
The rules also state that only 20 liters of petrol may be stored in a metal jerry can and no more than 10 liters in plastic alternative containers, traditionally holding only five liters each.
More than this and it becomes a legal requirement to notify your local Petroleum Enforcement Authority (PEA) in writing, stating your name and address of the storage site, as per the guidelines.
Drivers are also only allowed to carry two suitable containers at a time in a car and it must be in the trunk, not in the cabin of the vehicle.
They must also be clearly marked with the words “gasoline” and “highly flammable”, “be robust and incapable of breaking under normal conditions of use” and also prevent gasoline vapors from escaping.
If the police put it aside and a fuel container is deemed not in good condition, officers can classify it as ‘dangerous cargo’ or ‘may be dangerous’.
In addition to Halfords reporting a spike in canister sales in recent days, online retailer Wholesale Clearance UK says it sold its entire stock over the weekend as drivers wanted to stock up on fuel for themselves.
“Before the crisis, we sold our jerry can stock at a steady pace, but over the weekend we sold out in record time,” said CEO Karl Baxter.
‘On Friday 5,000 jerry cans were sold for £3.50 each, which we sold in lanes of 12 – we are now completely sold out!
“Keep in mind that these items had been on the list for months without much interest.”
Baxter now warns that there could be a shortage of cans and fuel as his supplies run out.
“Even if we wanted to, we wouldn’t be able to deliver more jerry cans for three months. It is likely that this will also cause a jerry can shortage,” he explains.
“After being sold out, we currently have no further plans to source and supply jerry cans until the petrol situation returns to normal to discourage panic buying.”
A joint statement released this afternoon by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy on behalf of the fuel industry – which includes BP, Shell, Esso – said: ‘There is ample fuel at UK refineries and terminals, and as an industry we are working closely with the government to ensure fuel is available for delivery to stations across the country.
“As many cars now contain more fuel than usual, we expect demand to return to normal levels in the coming days, which will ease pressure on filling stations. We would like to encourage everyone to buy fuel as they usually would.
“We remain immensely grateful to all gas stations and truck drivers for their tireless efforts to maintain supplies during this time.”
Despite this effort to avoid panic buying at the pumps, the crowds also led to a rise in bike orders, Halfords says.
It claims to have registered a 23 percent increase in bike sales compared to the previous weekend.
Sales of electric e-bikes were even higher, rising 106 percent over the same period.
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