Independent petrol chains cheaper for motorists according to ACCC

A new report from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has found that independent retailers offered the cheapest petrol across Australia’s eight capital cities in 2020.

The independent chains – including Speedway, Metro Petroleum, United, Vibe and FuelXpress – could have saved motorists across Australia’s five largest cities close to half a billion dollars, according to the ACCC.

The report also showed that the difference between the highest average price and the lowest average price increased from 8.4cpl (cents per litre) in 2019 to 11.4cpl in 2020.

“The range of petrol prices available to most Australian motorists means the potential savings from filling up at one of the cheaper retailers are very significant,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said.

“We often hear that all petrol prices are the same but this report shows that people living in capital cities do have choice about where they get their fuel, and how much they pay for it.

“Consumers should bear in mind that regular unleaded petrol sold in Australia typically comes from the same refineries or import terminals, and there are minimum quality standards that all retailers are required to adhere to. This means that motorists are getting petrol of a similar quality regardless of where they fill up,” Mr. Sims said.

The report also estimates that motorists in capital cities could have saved between $55 and $445 over the year by switching to one of the independent retailers.

ACCC Petrol Report Figures

“While price is undoubtedly the biggest influence on consumers’ decision about where to buy petrol, it’s important to acknowledge that factors such as location, type of fuel sold, the ability to use discount vouchers, and convenience stores all play a part as well,” Mr Sims said.

“People who choose to buy petrol at one location because it suits their needs can continue exercising their consumer choice. But we want Australians to know that there is a range of petrol retailers out there with different offerings, including petrol.

“Our analysis shows that in the four years from 2017 to 2020, certain independent chains were consistently the lowest-priced major petrol retailers across the major cities,” continues Sims.

“There are a number of independent chains in our largest capital cities with many retail sites, so a lot of motorists won’t have to go far to find a cheaper fuel if they want it.”

How do Australians save on petrol costs?

With 26% of respondents to a 2021 Canstar Blue survey indicating that the cost of fuel is a major strain on their finances, looking to fill up at the cheapest bowser pump appears to be at the forefront of many Aussie motorists’ minds when the dashboard light comes on. But how exactly are we trying to save on fuel?

According to the same Canstar Blue research, 23% of respondents say that they would be prepared to drive further for fuel if it saved them money, although only a quarter of those willing to drive further would travel more than 10 minutes out of their way for cheaper fuel, highlighting it’s a battle between convenience and savings.

23% of Aussie motorists shop at certain supermarkets because of the petrol discounts, with 21% of respondents also stating that they have a phone app that allows them to track fuel prices in their area. However, of those who have the app, 13% either rarely or never use it.

Despite the potential savings out there, 28% of respondents stated that they usually filled up at the same service station regardless of the price, although when questioned further, 20% said they visited the same service station to get reward points, 3% stated they had a fuel card for that particular service station chain, with 59% visiting because it’s a convenient location close to home or work.

But with Aussie motorists spending, on average, $108 a month on fuel, going five minutes down the road to a cheaper petrol station may pay off in the long run, and ensure your bank account isn’t running on fumes.

All figures have been produced from Canstar Blue’s 2021 research into Petrol & Service Stations, with over 1,900 Australian motorists surveyed. Research was finalised in May, 2021.

Photo Credit: Syda Productions/shutterstock.com, ACCC

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