The price of petrol is on the way up again, with some close to £1.40 a litre – and more increases in the pipeline. But not only are prices high, they can change dramatically in the space of just a couple of streets.
Are drivers really expected to drive around from pump to pump to find the cheapest petrol?
In the area where I live it’s common to find the same brand of petrol at widely different prices, even in similar towns just a few miles apart. Why is this?
It clearly makes sense for us to ‘vote with our feet’ – or rather our cars – and reward the cheaper filling station with our business. But given that petrol is pretty much the same thing wherever we fill up, how can the price vary so significantly locally, regionally or nationally, and even by brand?
Why such different prices?
Petrol firms claim that such differences reflect market forces. Petrol is likely to be more expensive where competition is weaker, and cheaper where there’s more choice. That, they say, is why petrol is so much more expensive in isolated rural communities.
However, even though the vast bulk of the cost is tax (fuel duty), prices are still unfairly high in places even where competition is supposedly strong.
Have you noticed much difference in the cost of petrol at different stations where you live? Do you purposefully drive to the cheapest station – or do you think that competition drives prices down in your area?