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Average petrol price in FY19 reached four-year high

Australians on average paid 141.2 cents per litre for petrol in FY19, the highest annual average price in four years, when adjusted for inflation.

The finding, released in the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission’s report on the petroleum market for the June quarter on Friday, comes as publicly listed retailers report their full-year results.

The Reject Shop, Domino’s Pizza Enterprises, Beacon Lighting and Michael Hill all cited challenging trading conditions in the year to June 30, 2019, as having an impact on their results.

Much of the focus has been on the weaker housing market and federal election, but as the ACCC report makes clear, higher prices at the pump also played a role.

The report shows that in the five largest cities – Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth – the average annual petrol price was 141.2 cents per litre, nearly 7 cents per litre higher than last year.

This spike was primarily driven by a weak Australian dollar, according to ACCC chair Rod Sims.

“This was the lowest annual average AUD-USD exchange rate in the last 15 years. The AUD–USD exchange rate is a significant determinant of Australia’s retail petrol prices because international refined petrol is bought and sold in US dollars in global markets,” he said.

In the first half of FY19, there was a change in price setter at both Coles Express, to Viva Energy, and Woolworths, to EG Group.

Compared with market average prices, Coles Express prices were lower in most capital cities after Viva Energy started setting prices, the report found, while Woolworths’ prices were higher in most capital cities after EG Group took over the retail sites. Prices were still below the market average price in the majority of cities, the ACCC report noted.

“The ACCC will monitor prices at these retail sites very closely in future,” Sims said.

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