Unstaffed stations leading to cheaper fuel prices in NZ

Unstaffed petrol stations in New Zealand are helping to drive down fuel prices in their local areas, according to the Commerce Commission.

Bryan Chapple, Commissioner at Commerce Commission New Zealand (ComCom), said 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.

“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.”

Chapple said the 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.”

The Commissioner 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.

“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,” said Chapple.

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