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ComCom Shows The Way To Go For Fuel Savings – Unstaffed Stations

The latest analysis of fuel monitoring data by the Commerce Commission shows genuine benefits for Kiwi motorists from unstaffed petrol stations in offering savings and bringing down prices.

Commissioner, Bryan Chapple, says areas that include at least one unstaffed fuel station within a five-minute drive have prices that are on average six cents per litre lower than those areas without unstaffed stations – though unstaffed stations run by supermarkets don’t have the same effect on competition.

“Our findings reinforce that unstaffed stations are definitely the way to go for cheaper fuel and anyone who has had one open in their area has probably experienced lower prices.

“New Zealanders spend around $10 billion at the fuel pump every year, so even a small reduction in prices can put money back into the pockets of Kiwis.”

Mr Chapple says local councils should be thinking about competition benefits of unstaffed sites in the planning processes and when considering consent applications.

“We’re seeing competition at work, and it’s useful for Kiwi motorists to be aware of, whether they’re driving to work, dropping the kids off at school or heading on holiday – every dollar counts and it’s a pretty good bet that an unstaffed site is going to be your cheapest option.

“This pricing pressure – and motorists choosing to shop wisely – also creates an incentive for staffed sites in the local area to reduce their prices.

“Ultimately, we see consumers benefiting from an increased number of unstaffed fuel sites, while they also have the option of staffed fuel sites with a wider range of services and retail products if that’s what they need.”

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The Commission’s latest analysis follows the issuing of a ‘please explain’ letter to fuel companies in September last year, asking for further information to help account for pricing anomalies in the fuel market.

Information disclosed to the Commission by major fuel companies on fuel terminal, trucking, and retail site costs only explains some of the fuel price variation seen across the country.

“As well as reviewing the information the fuel companies provided us, we have used data from fuel pricing app, Gaspy, to assess the effect on local fuel prices when an unstaffed petrol site opens – which is greater competitive pressure,” Mr Chapple says.

“This information is also useful for industry participants as it highlights where they can improve competition by establishing new stations.

“Over time, we expect the opening of more unstaffed sites would see fuel companies dropping their prices further to better reflect the cost of operating staffed and unstaffed sites.”

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