18 October 2019

Coles Express charged the most at the bowser in 2018, ACCC report finds

| Lachlan Roberts
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Petrol pumps

If Canberrans filled up their car at United instead of Coles Express, they could have saved themselves $185 in 2018. Photo: File.

A new Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) report says that Coles Express was charging Canberrans the most at the pump last year. They found the average fuel price over the year at Coles Express service stations was 2.2 cents per litre above the average.

The ACCC analysed average retail petrol prices throughout 2018 and compared the prices of high and low-priced major petrol retailers in Australia’s capital cities.

The data showed that independent chains were the lowest priced retailers in all eight capitals, while Coles Express was the highest priced retailer in almost all cities, including Canberra. Coles Express also had the highest monthly average price every month in Sydney and Canberra.

Calculating the annual average retail petrol price for Caltex, Coles Express, United, Woolworths and 7-Eleven service stations in Canberra, the report found a range of 7.1 cents per litre between the lowest and the highest priced retailers.

Woolworths, 7-Eleven and Caltex were well below the market average price, with United the lowest at 4.9 cents per litre below the market average price (153.4 cents per litre).

Fuel price analysis

Coles Express was the most expensive fuel retailer according to the ACCC in 2018.

ACCC chair Rod Sims said if a Canberra motorist had filled up their car at United service stations instead of Coles Express, they could have saved themselves on average 7.1 cents per litre each time they filled up, or $185 in 2018.

Mr Sims said motorists could save hundreds of dollars a year, simply by choosing to fill up at low-priced independent service stations.

“Motorists that always filled up at these independent chains would have come out ahead when it comes to petrol,” Mr Sims said. “The data reveals that independent chains were the lowest priced retailers in all eight cities, while Coles Express was the highest priced retailer in almost all cities.”

The data also showed that Coles Express had the highest monthly average price every month and was above the market average price every month. On the other hand, United was the lowest in 10 months and was below the market average price every month.

Mr Sims said the ACCC’s report dispelled the myth held by some consumers that all petrol prices are the same. He encouraged motorists to check fuel prices apps and websites to find the best bargains.

“While some motorists decide where to fill up based on reasons other than price such as convenience and related offers, for many consumers price is the biggest influence on where they buy petrol,” he said.

“Motorists who want to save money on petrol should use fuel price apps and websites. Consumers do not only benefit from the lower prices they find using these apps, but they also help reward retailers who actively compete on price.”

ACCC price comparison data

ACCC analysis of the range between the highest priced and lowest prices major petrol retailers in eight capital cities in 2018.

Read the ACCC report here.

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