Fuel price transparency and retail industry competition

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) Chairman Rod Sims has outlined how fuel price data from websites and apps empower price-sensitive consumers. The industry can then attract these consumers through discounts to increase their sales, speaking at the Asia Pacific Fuel Industry Forum.

Since 2016 fuel price data has been readily available to motorists from an increasing number of websites and apps. These include the NSW FuelCheck scheme, the GasBuddy app, the NRMA app and the 7-Eleven app. This information assists consumers find the best time to buy at sites with the lowest prices.

"Many consumers appear convinced that petrol prices are a rip off. The wild fluctuations in prices that occur in the larger cities as a result of the petrol price cycles only reinforce this view. Consumers can see that international petrol prices have not risen but fuel prices have. These perceptions have been around for many years and remain today," Mr Sims said.

"This is why the current focus of the ACCC is to highlight to consumers the ability of technology to help them find where the cheapest petrol prices are, to encourage them to buy where petrol is cheapest, and to reward retailers which have the lowest prices," he said.

"This takes us from a long-standing arrangement whereby only the major retailers had access to comprehensive information about petrol prices, to consumers now being empowered to make purchasing decisions through a range of fuel price apps and websites.

We believe this will, in turn, help drive more competitive markets in petrol retailing," Mr Sims said.

The ACCC has had a role in petrol ever since its establishment in 1995. Recent activity includes detailed market studies covering Darwin, Launceston, Armidale and Cairns. The ACCC is now reviewing lessons learned from these studies to see how they might be applied in other areas.

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