Monday quest for cheap petrol a Perth obsession

Kent AcottThe West Australian
VideoQueues are a regular sight at Perth petrol stations on Mondays

These photos show the lengths some West Australians will go to save $10 a week.

As the rising cost of living puts pressure on household budgets, long queues of cars snaking out of petrol stations has become a regular sight every Monday across Perth.

The West Australian on Monday photographed motorists cashing in on the cheapest fuel day, with queues stretching on to busy roads and causing traffic disruptions.

The uniquely West Australian weekly phenomenon shows how far motorists are prepared to sacrifice their time to save the equivalent of the price of a couple of cups of coffees each week.

Several petrol station managers contacted by The West Australian indicated there was often “mayhem around the bowsers” on Mondays.

“Its great that motorists get a chance to save money on Mondays,” one manager said. “But I don’t know that I’d be prepared to wait in a queue for so long, just to save a few bucks.”

For WA Council of Social Services chief executive Louise Giolitto, it is another example of West Australians “counting every penny”.

Other examples include the big jumps in people seeking help with their power bills and debt reduction, she said.

Price cycles have been a feature of petrol sales in Australian cities for many years. While sudden spikes in price can be frustrating, the cycles provide motorists with an opportunity to save money by buying petrol on the “cheap days”.

Unlike the Eastern States capitals, Perth’s price occurs weekly, making it predictable — prices are at their lowest on Mondays and highest on Tuesdays. As a result, more than 25 per cent of fuel sales in Perth are on Mondays, and less than 10 per cent on Tuesdays.

In a report in December, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission estimated Perth drivers could save $520 a year — or $10 a week — by filling up on Mondays and not Tuesdays.

The potential saving was highest in the country.

Queues at a Mount Lawley service station.
Camera IconQueues at a Mount Lawley service station. Credit: Ross Swanborough

RAC manager vehicles and fuels Alex Forrest said filling up on Monday could save $9 for a car with a 50-litre tank — a significant saving to many household budgets.

“There may be a convenient alternative location which offers similar savings but less time stuck in lines,” he said. “And the FuelWatch website is a great place to find out.”

According to FuelWatch, the average price of unleaded petrol jumped 20¢ a litre on Tuesday this week to 155.9¢.

The latest affordability index by the Australian Automobile Association found Perth was the fourth most expensive capital city for transport costs at $17,831. The national average was $18,227. But petrol costs fell by $1.53 a week in the latest index.

The biggest transport costs for Perth families were car loan payments, comprehensive insurance, car servicing and tyres.

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