ACCC urges car owners to hunt for cheap petrol

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Drivers could save up to $520 per year by purchasing petrol at the bottom of the price cycle, according to a new report from Australia’s competition regulator.

The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC), which monitors petrol prices in about 200 cities and towns across Australia, said at least 18 had price cycles (see image below):

  • New South Wales – Sydney, Central Coast, Wollongong and Tweed Heads South
  • Victoria – Melbourne, Geelong, Koo Wee Rup, Wallan and Seymour
  • Queensland – Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Caboolture and Ipswich
  • Western Australia – Perth, Geraldton
  • South Australia – Adelaide, Gawler

Price cycles involve “sudden, sharp increase in petrol prices” – usually led by one or more sites – “followed by a much slower decline back to lower price levels”.

The ACCC estimated that drivers who buy from the cheapest petrol stations at the bottom of price cycles could make the following annual savings:

  • Sydney – $175
  • Melbourne – $150
  • Brisbane – $150
  • Perth – $520
  • Adelaide – $200

Savings are higher in Perth because of its regular weekly cycles. The other capitals have longer cycles, and therefore fewer low points, according to the ACCC.


Use your wallet to send a message: ACCC

ACCC commissioner Mick Keogh said that price cycles aren’t illegal, even though they often seem inexplicable.

“There’s a common perception that all retailers put their prices up or down at exactly the same time, but our research shows this isn’t the case, so if you see prices going up at one retailer, use an app to find another who hasn’t yet raised their price,” he said.

“Many people don’t realise there is also a significant difference between the cheapest and most expensive service stations throughout the price cycle, so purchasing petrol from those retailers that are consistently among the lowest-priced will save you money.”

Mr Keogh said that if drivers used price comparison apps to locate cheaper petrol stations, it would put pressure on dearer petrol stations to lower their prices.

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