SOARING fuel prices are pushing up the cost of fresh food, electronics, clothes and other everyday items.

The transport industry has warned record diesel prices are flowing through to the cost of living as increased delivery charges are passed on.

The knock-on effect has come as Australian ­motorists in the past week were slugged with the steepest national average price for unleaded fuel in more than a decade.

Melbourne drivers on Monday reported unleaded petrol prices as high as 169.9c a litre at locations ­including St Kilda, Tullamarine, Richmond, Point Cook and Hoppers Crossing.

The national average hit 159.3c a litre in the past week — the highest since the week to July 27, 2008.

The national average for diesel was 164.7c a litre, according to Australian Institute of Petroleum data.

Victorian Transport Association chief Peter Anderson said diesel prices had increased by at least 5c a litre since ­August.

“Diesel represents between 20 per cent and 30 per cent of your daily operating costs in the transport business,” he said.

“Up until a few months ago, fuel (diesel) had been steady in pricing but in the past two months, we’ve seen it go up to record highs.”

Mr Anderson said a surge in prices in the past few months amounted to a 1 per cent increase to the cost of goods when passed on at retail level.

“Everything associated with your cost of living goes up and could continue to do so,” Mr Anderson said. “That includes fresh food, clothes and electronics. Everything that we eat, buy, drink or use.”

Retail analysts have separately noted that fresh food ­prices are under pressure because of the drought.

CommSec chief economist Craig James said higher fuel prices added to inflation directly at the pump, and indirectly through transport costs.

However, motorists could see temporary relief at the bowser of as much as 8c a litre over the next fortnight because the key Singapore gasoline price had dropped and the Australian dollar had stabilised.

“In capital cities with a discounting cycle, petrol prices could fall as low as 143c a litre but may still be as high as 170c a litre when the discounting cycle ends,” Mr James said.

“Average Australian unleaded petrol prices will hold (at) $1.50 to $1.60 a litre.”

The RACV’s website on Monday recorded a lowest metropolitan Melbourne price of 137.5c a litre, and an average 159c a litre.

Extracted from Herald Sun