More fuel-price choice than ever before, says ACCC

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Australians have more choice than ever before when buying petrol, according to the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC).

The ACCC says motorists should take advantage of this increased choice. They should be “shopping around” to maximise the benefits of cheaper fuel, loyalty programs and convenience-store items, even in-store cafés.

Greater market diversity

The ACCC’s report ‘Retail & wholesale petrol market shares in Australia’ shows there is greater diversity of retailers in the market compared with 15 years ago.

In 2002-3, for example, brands such as BP and Caltex accounted for an overwhelming 83 per cent of ACCC-monitored retail petrol sales.

But, since then, their share of ACCC-monitored retail petrol sales has fallen significantly to 38 per cent in 2016-17.

Conversely, large independent retail chains – 7-Eleven, United, Puma Energy and On The Run – have more than quadrupled their market share over that time. Their share rose from six per cent of ACCC-monitored retail petrol sales in 2002-03 to 25 per cent in 2016-17.

“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.”

Price is king

“For many consumers, price is the most important factor when determining where to buy petrol,” Mr Sims went on. “More players in the market means more options of where to buy petrol. This is important as we found prices vary considerably between retailers.”

There are a variety of fuel-price websites and apps that give drivers information about petrol prices. They include:

  • New South Wales FuelCheck website and app
  • Northern Territory MyFuel NT website and app
  • Western Australia FuelWatch website
  • MotorMouth website and app
  • Apps operated by GasBuddy, the NRMA, 7-Eleven and Woolworths.

These websites and apps differ in the quality and breadth of their price data. They also update prices with varying frequency (eg, per hour, per day, etc).