Petrol prices during holiday periods: Price comparison worthwhile
Andreas Mundt, President of the Bundeskartellamt:
"In the last few years we have not noticed any unusual nationwide price increases at the beginning of a holiday period. But prices can differ considerably not only from one petrol station to another but also during the course of a day. So especially just before going on holiday it is worth taking a closer look at petrol prices and possible alternatives for filling up. On average the best times of the day to refuel are in the afternoon and evening. Nonetheless, using an App can also save costs at these times of the day. Since mid April this year we have observed another small price increase in the afternoon, currently around 5 pm, in addition to the increase in prices at noon."
In previous years there were regular complaints about significantly increased fuel prices at petrol stations on holidays or at the start of school holidays. In its fuel sector inquiry the Bundeskartellamt found that during the period from 2007 to 2010 prices were indeed around five to ten cent/litre higher during the Easter holiday period. However, nationwide increased prices have not been observed for 2015 and 2016.
This year the average prices during the two weeks before and two weeks after Easter differed by less than five cent/litre (see figure 1). A significant increase in the price level on account of the Easter holidays cannot be concluded from these data either. The development of fuel prices mainly followed that of the crude oil price. However, compared with the moving average prices established over a seven-day period, it can be observed that the daily average prices over the Easter period notably on Sundays and the actual holidays were slightly higher than on the other days.
Irrespective of this development of the average price around Easter, throughout the whole year prices fluctuate considerably during the day and in some cases are notably different in some regions and at some petrol stations.
In addition to the sharp price increase in the evenings, since 2015 prices have also been raised to a certain extent around noon. Since mid April this year a further slight rise in prices has become noticeable in the late afternoon, currently around 5 pm. However, based on the assessment of average prices, afternoons and evenings are overall still the cheapest time to refuel during the course of a day (see figure 2).
The Market Transparency Unit for Fuels collects price data from approx.14,750 petrol stations in Germany. It then forwards these data to providers of consumer information services within a very short space of time. Based on the information provided by the Market Transparency Unit for Fuels, consumers today have a multitude of opportunities to compare fuel prices at petrol stations either online or via mobile apps. By choosing a cheap petrol station they can not only save money but also increase competition between the petrol stations.
The Annual Reports (only available in German) of the Market Transparency Unit for Fuels with information on fuel prices and their development as well as further information on the Market Transparency Unit for Fuels are available on the website of the Bundeskartellamt. A list of the registered consumer information services can also be found on the website.