Petrol prices vary significantly: report on petrol prices by major retailer in 2018

Petrol Petrol prices Consumer behaviour Australia

Key messages:

The price of petrol is important to many motorists

  • Analysis by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) of average petrol prices of the major retailers in all capital cities shows that prices vary significantly, dispelling the myth held by some consumers that all petrol prices are the same.
  • The price of petrol is an important factor in a motorist’s decision about where to buy petrol. A survey of fuel consumer attitudes in 2017, commissioned by the Australasian Convenience and Petroleum Marketers Association, found that almost 50 per cent of consumers surveyed indicated that price had the biggest influence on their decision about where to buy fuel.
  • It is important to recognise that there are other reasons why motorists may choose to go to one retail site over another. These include factors such as: location, retail brand, convenience store, food and beverage offering (particularly coffee) and the cleanliness of the retail site (and particularly the bathrooms).
  • However, for those motorists that are influenced by price in choosing where to buy petrol, information about the petrol prices of the various major retailers can be helpful.

Prices vary significantly between major retailers

  • 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.2 Regular unleaded petrol (RULP) prices were analysed in all cities except Sydney, where E10 (i.e. RULP with up to 10 per cent ethanol) prices were analysed.
  • For the purposes of this analysis, in the five largest cities (i.e. Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth) a major retailer is one that determines the retail price of petrol at seven or more retail sites in the city. In the smaller capitals (i.e. Canberra, Hobart and Darwin), a major retailer may have fewer than seven retail sites, as there are a smaller number of retail sites in these cities.
  • The retail sites of non-major retailers are included in the analysis in the ‘small independents’ category. BP- and Caltex-branded retail sites at which BP and Caltex set the price (i.e. company-owned and company-operated retail sites and commission agent retail sites) are referred to as COCO sites.
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