Travel to and from retail stores in the UK is an important contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. Over 65% of travel for shopping is in personal vehicles, with 25% walking and 7% by local bus. Shopping accounts for 19% of all trips, and 736 miles per person per year on average. Some UK retailers also provide petrol retail services, with supermarket retailers accounting for the largest share of the total market at almost 45%.
In 2018, 808 billion passenger kilometres were travelled in Great Britain, with 83% of passenger kilometres made by cars, vans and taxis. In 2019, approximately 26% of all trips made were for leisure purposes, with the second largest purpose being shopping at 19% of all trips. Of the shopping trips made, over 65% of these are made in personal vehicles (i.e. cars and vans, including as a passenger), the mode associated with highest emissions.
The UK is currently transitioning from petrol and diesel to electric personal vehicles. While emissions for personal vehicles will remain higher than public transport, cycling and walking, based on the carbon intensity of the UK’s current energy supply mix, lifetime greenhouse gas emissions per km for electric vehicles could be approximately 30% of emissions for petrol and diesel vehicles. In countries where the majority of energy is produced from renewable sources, electric vehicles can emit 80% less carbon dioxide than petrol and diesel vehicles, even when battery and car manufacturing is factored in. Coupled with the deployment of renewable energy, electric vehicles have potential to drive a significant reduction in the UK’s emissions.
Routes to decarbonising customer transport
There is potential to reduce emissions associated with customer travel to retail stores by incentivising cycling and walking, public transport, vehicle sharing, and the use of park and ride schemes. Providing electric vehicle charging infrastructure that is convenient for retail customers, including in car parks, will support the transition away from fossil fuels to electric vehicles that is required for decarbonisation. Efficient and low carbon home delivery services may also provide opportunity to reduce emissions. Low carbon logistics is explored in Section 6.
Decarbonising emissions associated with retail of fuel requires action in areas including:
- Supporting low carbon driving behaviours.
- Supporting vehicle maintenance to maintain vehicle efficiency.
- Retailing efficient and lower carbon vehicle fuels.
- Supporting a rapid transition to electric vehicles including through the deployment of electric charging infrastructure.
 National Travel Survey (2016) Department for Transport
 Market share of motor fuel sold in petrol stations in the United Kingdom in 2019, by brand, Statista [Accessed September 2020]
 Transport Statistics Great Britain: 2019 summary. Department for Transport.
 Fact Check: How electric vehicles help to tackle climate change (2020) Carbon Brief