Petrol price margins generated by service stations have soared a staggering 25 per cent since the number of Perth’s “cheap” fuel days were slashed, according to the RAC.

Amid record-high fuel prices in early October, major petrol retailers forced Perth’s fuel prices to shift from a weekly to a fortnightly cycle — cutting the number of “cheap Tuesday” fill up days in half.

Industry watchdog FuelWatch at the time said outlets offered no explanation for the change in the price pattern, which had been in place across Perth and Mandurah since 2009.

Only weeks after the cycle switch, Perth’s daily average petrol price record was smashed, reaching 182.4¢ per unleaded litre on November 3 and 17.

Some petrol stations have also been caught out charging as high as 196.9¢ per litre.

Perth motorists on Tuesday were again urged to fill their tanks before prices jumped an average of 33¢ per litre on Wednesday — the highest end-of-cycle hike since the fortnightly pattern began.

The difference between the wholesale and bowser price was now being raised by retailers from 11.5¢ to 14.4¢ per litre on average, according to RAC general manager Will Golsby.

“At a time when household budgets are stretched for Christmas and petrol prices are creeping closer to $2 a litre, we find out fuel retailers are actually increasing their margins,” he said.

“While a 3¢ increase in margins might sound small, for every 1¢ petrol prices rise, an additional $17.7 million goes from motorists’ pockets into the revenue streams of petrol companies.

“The recent shift from a weekly to fortnightly petrol price cycle has never been fully explained.

Clearly the question needs to be asked – is this another way to boost bottom lines at the expense of motorists?

Australasian Convenience and Petroleum Marketers Association chief executive Mark McKenzie said there had been a drop off in fuel volume across the country while the operating cost for retailers remained the same. “If you have got the same costs but the same fuel sold, then you have to recover more fuel per litre sold at the retail side,” Mr McKenzie said.

“You’ll find your costs go up slightly.”

Data from an Australian Competition and Consumer Commission report released last week suggest the price of petrol is starting to drop in Perth.

Mr Golsby said the price margin hike was coming at the ““the worst possible time” heading into the end-of-year festive period.

“Fuel is a constant and usually unavoidable expense for West Australian households and it’s becoming increasingly expensive just to move around our State,” he said.

“In recent weeks we’ve seen wholesale pricing starting to drop, so now is the time for fuel companies to start passing these reductions on to prices at the bowser as we head into Christmas and 2022.”

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