RECORD high fuel prices are set to inflict more pain on cash-strapped families at the pump, right before the Christmas holidays.

The average fuel price in Brisbane has surged to a whopping 171.2 cents per litre, the most expensive ever, with the RACQ revealing service stations are making an eye-watering 34.6 cents per litre of pure profit.

Prices yesterday around Brisbane were 39.7 cents per litre more expensive than the December average for last year, when prices were 131.5 cents per litre.

Motorists are urged to wait for the price at the pump to start falling again in the next few days, but it’s uncertain whether costs will fall back below $1.40 a litre.

Social researcher Claire Madden said expensive fuel costs would weigh on the hip-pockets of families battling with already soaring costs of living.

“Christmas is already a financially stretched time of year for families,” she said.

“When petrol goes up, people feel it across the board and it can add to that pressure.”

RACQ spokeswoman Lauren Ritchie urged motorists to shop around and wait for prices to drop before completely filling the tank.

“If you can afford not to fill up, then hold off,” Ms Ritchie said.

“If you must fill up, just buy enough to meet your immediate needs and make sure you’re shopping at the cheapest servo.

“When we give business to the people overcharging us, it basically rewards them for being greedy.”

Ms Ritchie warned that other regions of south-east Queensland would not be immune to price hikes.

“The Gold Coast and Ipswich markets are also in the expensive phase of the cycle and we could see those cities hit record highs as well in the coming days,” she said.

Australasian Convenience and Petroleum Marketers Association, which represents fuel retailers and suppliers, said calls for a boycott over prices were overblown.

“The RACQ knows about as much about fuel prices as the fuel industry knows about car insurance prices,” the group’s chief executive Mark McKenzie said.

“Last week at the bottom of the cycle, service stations were losing between nine and 13 cents a litre,” Mr McKenzie said.

“It’s just the standard petrol price cycle.”

Extracted from Daily Telegraph