Oil cost dip a boon for consumers
As the cost of Brent crude oil continues to drop to around $40 a barrel consumers are beginning to notice the differences in a number of ways.
The RAC is currently suggesting that people could be paying £1 per litre for petrol in the run-up to Christmas.
Other analysts, meanwhile, are even predicting that the price could drop below £1.
Morrisons (who came to Northern Ireland, but didn't stay very long before it sold out to Asda) has fired the opening shot in what some are predicting could be the beginning of a new supermarket fuel price war by offering customers at its stores petrol at the very attractive rate of £1 per litre when they spend £40 or more in one single transaction.
No doubt the other supermarkets will be studying the public reaction to this offer, and, hopefully, will follow suit. After all, what's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.
I predict that it will be game on very soon as the supermarkets start to jostle with each other for supremacy in the Christmas marketplace.
No doubt the Morrisons offer will be very enticing for consumers, and could very well result in a much higher footfall in its supermarkets.
The others in the Big Four will not want to miss out if this happens. But what does this mean for consumers in real terms?
Well, not only will the petrol price drop result in lower motoring costs, there will also be a number of additional benefits.
The price of oil at the minute should help to reduce energy costs, which could eventually result in lower costs for manufacturers and primary producers. It could also result in lower costs in the supply chain.
This means it will cost less to move the products from the place of production to the point of sale, and, therefore, transport and distribution costs should drop.
This would be good news for consumers if these cost reductions are passed on.
All of this augurs well for shoppers in the lead-up to Christmas. Cheaper motoring costs and already-falling prices in the food and drink sectors could make all the difference to consumers keen to ensure they get value for money.
Donald C McFetridge is a retail analyst at the Ulster University Business School