New data shows Australians have more choice than ever before when buying petrol, thanks to the introduction of greater market competition.
The ACCC’s second petrol industry report has examined retail market shares in Australia and shows there is a greater diversity of retailers in the market compared with 15 years ago when it was dominated by big brands like BP and Caltex.
Consumers are encouraged to take advantage of this increased choice by shopping around to maximise the benefits of offerings like cheaper fuel, loyalty programs, convenience store items and even in-store cafes.
“The changing dynamic of Australia’s retail petrol market can be beneficial to consumers, as it gives them more choice about where they get their fuel,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said.
“New retailers entering the market, for example, can have a positive impact on competition as businesses fight for market share. This can help bring down prices, as we have recently seen in the Cairns petrol market. Where there are a limited number of retailers in a market, prices can be higher due to a lack of price competition,” Mr Sims said.
The report also found that the market shares of the two supermarket chains (Coles Express and Woolworths) had diminished rapidly over the past four years. The ACCC undertook an investigation into these shopper dockets and in December 2013 accepted voluntary court-enforceable undertakings from Coles Express and Woolworths to limit these discounts due to concerns about their long-term anti-competitive effect.
“For many consumers, price is the most important factor when determining where to buy petrol. More players in the market means more options of where to buy petrol. This is important as we found prices vary considerably between retailers,” Mr Sims said.
“For example, in our first industry report we found that in Sydney the difference between the highest priced and lowest priced retailer was 9.5 cents per litre in 2017. Price-sensitive consumers can therefore make significant savings over time by choosing to buy petrol at lower priced retailers.”
So what are some tips to help you save more at the petrol bowser?
Consider fuel price apps and websites
There are a variety of fuel price websites and apps that provide information to drivers about petrol prices, including:
- New South Wales FuelCheck
- Northern Territory MyFuel NT
- Western Australia FuelWatch
There are differences in the quality and breadth of the price data available from these websites and apps, as well as the frequency with which prices are updated.
Is price or convenience more important?
Decide whether you want to purchase petrol from retailers you consider to be in convenient locations, or from ones that have superior convenience store offerings or offer loyalty schemes, such as frequent flyer points. Sometimes this extra value can outweigh the potential savings of driving somewhere just because the price per litre is cheaper.
Don’t buy premium fuel unless you need it
There is no point filling E95 or E98 fuel into your vehicle unless it is a premium car that needs it. While higher octane fuel delivers greater efficiency the difference in price currently doesn’t stack up to justify that move in a lot of vehicles.
It is common sense – fully pumped up tyres means less effort on your engine to get the car moving. Make sure your entire fleet has the right sized tyres pumped at the optimal PSI.
Delay filling up and know your market
Petrol prices are somewhat cyclical so don’t fill up until you need to. Try and get an idea of your location and it’s weekly/monthly marketing patterns. Each area will have will have its own specific retailers, and their share of the retail market will often be different from the national market share.