Motorists can save hundreds by shopping for petrol at low priced retailers

17 October 2019

Motorists could save hundreds of dollars a year, simply by choosing to fill up at low-priced petrol retailers, a new ACCC petrol report has found.

The ACCC report analyses average retail petrol prices throughout 2018, and compares the prices between high- and low-priced major petrol retailers in the eight Australian capital cities.

“The data reveals that independent chains were the lowest priced retailers in all eight cities, while Coles Express was the highest priced retailer in almost all cities,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said.

The independent chains with the lowest average prices in 2018 were United in Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra and Hobart, Speedway in Sydney, Liberty in Adelaide, Vibe in Perth and FuelXpress in Darwin.

“Motorists that always filled up at these independent chains would have come out ahead when it comes to petrol,” Mr Sims said.

“While some motorists decide where to fill up based on reasons other than price, such as convenience and related offers, for many consumers price is the biggest influence on where they buy petrol.”

In 2018, a motorist in Sydney could have saved around $343 for the year by choosing to fill up at these independent retailers rather than the highest-priced player. Similar savings would have been around $148 in Melbourne, around $229 in Brisbane, around $211 in Perth and around $159 in Adelaide.

Collectively, the ACCC estimates that savings to motorists from switching from a range of high- to low-priced petrol retailers in the five largest cities (Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth) could have totalled around $275 million in 2018.

“Motorists who want to save money on petrol should use fuel price apps and websites,” Mr Sims said.

“Consumers do not only benefit from the lower prices they find using these apps, but they also help reward retailers who actively compete on price.”

Fuel price websites and apps that provide information to drivers about petrol prices, include the NSW FuelCheck website and app, the Northern Territory MyFuel NT website and app, the WA FuelWatch website, the MotorMouth website and app, and apps operated by GasBuddy, the NRMA and RACQ, 7-Eleven and Woolworths.

Consumers should remember that there are minimum standards for regular unleaded petrol (RULP). RULP sold by high and low-priced stations often comes from the same sources.

In the five largest cities the range between the highest and lowest priced major retailer varied from 13.2 cents per litre (cpl) in Sydney to 5.7 cpl in Melbourne. In the three smaller capitals (Canberra, Hobart and Darwin) the range varied from 10.4 cpl in Darwin to 2.6 cpl in Hobart.

The report also found that the range between the highest and lowest priced retailers increased from 2017 to 2018 in the five largest cities. This is likely because of more volatile retail prices that reflected larger movements in the international price of refined petrol in 2018.

Notes for editors

In this report, the ACCC analysed monthly and annual average retail petrol prices in 2018 to identify the highest and lowest priced major retailers of petrol on average in each of the eight capital cities in Australia.

RULP prices were analysed in all cities except Sydney. E10 (i.e. RULP with up to 10 per cent ethanol) prices were analysed in Sydney. All prices are board prices and do not take account of the various discount schemes.

There are a variety of business models and ownership structures in the retail petrol industry, meaning that there are different pricing strategies and offers among retail sites, as well as different capital structures and cost bases. These differences need to be borne in mind when considering the average prices of the major retailers.

This analysis focused on the capital cities because they generally have a larger range of prices, and more retail sites, than regional locations across Australia.

While there is a range of fuel price websites and apps available to motorists, the ACCC notes that some are more comprehensive and timely than others, and not all of them include prices for the lowest priced retail sites.

The government schemes are the most comprehensive and up-to-date, whereas the commercial services (such as MotorMouth and GasBuddy) may not include all of the cheaper retail sites. In jurisdictions where commercial services obtain their data via the government schemes, they can be as comprehensive and timely as the government websites and apps.

Background

On 20 December 2017, the then Treasurer directed the ACCC to monitor the prices, costs and profits relating to the supply of petroleum products and related services in the petroleum industry in in Australia. See: ACCC's fuel monitoring role

Under this direction, the ACCC produces quarterly petrol monitoring reports focusing on the price movements in the capital cities and over 190 regional locations across Australia. It also produces industry reports that focus on particular aspects of consumer interest in the fuel market. This is the fourth industry report.

The following charts show the difference between each major retailer’s annual average petrol price and the market annual average petrol price in each capital city in 2018. They also show the proportion of retail sites in the city for each major retailer as at 30 June 2018, which provides an indication of the significance of each major retailer’s prices in the market.

 

Difference between each major retailer’s annual average petrol price and the market annual average petrol price in Sydney in 2018

Source: ACCC calculations based on Informed Sources data and information provided by some major retailers.

Notes: References to petrol in Sydney are to E10.
The numbers in brackets are the proportion of retail sites in Sydney for each major retailer.
The proportions of retail sites shown in the chart do not total 100 per cent due to rounding.
BP Jasbe is a BP-branded independent chain.

 

Difference between each major retailer’s annual average petrol price and the market annual average petrol price in Melbourne in 2018

Source: ACCC calculations based on Informed Sources data and information provided by some major retailers.

Notes: The numbers in brackets are the proportion of retail sites in Melbourne for each major retailer.
Prices were not available for Liberty and Shell retail sites in Melbourne. Therefore, the proportions of retail sites shown in the chart do not total 100 per cent.
BP AA and BP Jasbe are BP-branded independent chains.

 

Difference between each major retailer’s annual average petrol price and the market annual average petrol price in Brisbane in 2018

Source: ACCC calculations based on Informed Sources data and information provided by some major retailers.

Notes: The numbers in brackets are the proportion of retail sites in Brisbane for each major retailer.
Prices were not available for BP McPhee retail sites in Brisbane. Therefore, the proportions of retail sites shown in the chart do not total 100 per cent.
BP Prasad and BP McPhee are BP-branded independent chains.

 

Difference between each major retailer’s annual average petrol price and the market annual average petrol price in Adelaide in 2018

Source: ACCC calculations based on Informed Sources data and information provided by some major retailers.

Notes: The numbers in brackets are the proportion of retail sites in Adelaide for each major retailer.
Prices were not available for United and X Convenience retail sites in Adelaide. Therefore, the proportions of retail sites shown in the chart do not total 100 per cent.
BP Agostino is a BP-branded independent chain.
The small independents category includes the single BP COCO retail site in Adelaide.
The average BP Agostino price was equal to the market average price.

 

Difference between each major retailer’s annual average petrol price and the market annual average petrol price in Perth in 2018

Source: ACCC calculations based on Informed Sources data and information provided by some major retailers.

Notes: The numbers in brackets are the proportion of retail sites in Perth for each major retailer.
BP Sanzone is a BP-branded independent chain.
The average price for the small independents category was equal to the market average price.

 

Difference between each major retailer’s annual average petrol price and the market annual average petrol price in Canberra in 2018

Source: ACCC calculations based on Informed Sources data and information provided by some major retailers.

Notes: The numbers in brackets are the proportion of retail sites in Canberra for each major retailer.
Prices were not available for BP-branded retail sites in Canberra, as they generally sell E10 rather than RULP. Prices were also not available for the small independents category. Therefore, the proportions of retail sites shown in the chart do not total 100 per cent.
There were three United retail sites in Canberra.

 

Difference between each major retailer’s annual average petrol price and the market annual average petrol price in Hobart in 2018

Source: ACCC calculations based on Informed Sources data and information provided by some major retailers.

Notes: The numbers in brackets are the proportion of retail sites in Hobart for each major retailer.
The proportions of retail sites shown in the chart do not total 100 per cent due to rounding.
There were four Woolworths retail sites in Hobart.
Caltex Bennetts Petroleum is a Caltex-branded independent chain.

 

Difference between each major retailer’s annual average petrol price and the market annual average petrol price in Darwin in 2018

Source: ACCC calculations based on Informed Sources data and information provided by some major retailers.

Notes: The numbers in brackets are the proportion of retail sites in Darwin for each major retailer.
Prices were not available for the small independents category. Therefore, the proportions of retail sites shown in the chart do not total 100 per cent.
There were four Caltex COCO retail sites and one FuelXpress retail site in Darwin.

Release number: 
194/19
ACCC Infocentre: 

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