Perth motorists are finally feeling the pain usually inflicted on their country counterparts, with some regional centres enjoying cheaper petrol than the big smoke.

Amid signs petrol prices are about to fall, new figures show that Perth’s average petrol prices were not the State’s cheapest over the past week.

Australian Institute of Petroleum data shows the average price of petrol in Bunbury was just 126.8 cents a litre while in Perth it was almost 130 cents a litre.

It was the third consecutive week that Bunbury petrol prices were lower than those in Perth.

But Bunbury was not the only regional centre to have cheaper average petrol. In Kalgoorlie, where at the start of the year motorists were paying 24 cents a litre more than Perth drivers, the average price last week fell below that of the State capital.

Even in Boulder, motorists were almost 2 cents a litre better off last week than in Perth.

Perth is not the only capital to experience higher prices than regional centres. It is also happening in NSW and Victoria.

It comes after an announcement by the competition watchdog that it is looking specifically at the price differences between capitals and regional cities.

But it may not be this way for long, with metropolitan prices likely to edge down because of global factors. The benchmark US price slipped to a six-year low of $US43 a barrel this week on a growing over-supply of oil and slowing demand in China.

CommSec’s chief equities economist Craig James said that after edging up over recent weeks, prices were likely to slip about 5 cents a litre.

“A lot depends on what the Australian dollar does, so if it falls, then there won’t be a lot of joy coming through but it will still be measureable,” he said.

Forecasts from Deloitte Access suggest cheaper petrol will be a key factor to the strength of the national economy over coming months.

Director David Rumbens said last year was the strongest for retailers since before the global financial crisis, although the coming year was likely to be a little softer.

He said that softness would be offset by continuing low interest rates and the big fall in petrol prices over the past three months.

“The short-term outlook remains good for retail, supported by rate cuts and the bowser boost, even though the broader economy continues to move along at a sub-trend pace,” he said.

Mr Rumbens said Access expected the WA retail market to struggle as the mining construction boom unwound.

Extracted in full from the West Australian.