As the average price of a liter of petrol broke records in the UK, motorists in Northern Ireland pay a few cents less per liter, thanks in part to a price-tracking service that offers greater transparency than in other parts of the country.
The average price of petrol in Northern Ireland today was 180.1p per liter, compared to the UK average of 182.31p, and diesel was 183.8p per liter, more than 4p cheaper than the UK average of 188.05p.
The Consumer Council of Northern Ireland’s Fuel Price Checker was introduced in 2020 and collects data from more than 80 petrol stations around Northern Ireland.
Updated weekly, so motorists can see the highest, lowest and average fuel prices in their area.
Groups like AA say that this has a deflationary effect on prices, as consumers know exactly how much to pay at the pumps and can more easily avoid the more expensive retailers.
The state-funded Consumer Council acknowledges that there are a variety of reasons behind Northern Ireland’s cheaper prices, but says that its tracking tool plays an important role.
Peter McClenaghan, the council’s head of infrastructure and sustainability, told Sky News that “AA has been very nice and has said they believe our tool will definitely help keep prices down in Northern Ireland.”
“We would be a little more modest, but definitely have a tool for consumers that allows them to see what the highest and lowest and average price in their city helps people shop around and get a good deal.”
AA wants to see a similar price transparency adapted throughout the UK and claims that when it was introduced in Austria, it had an immediate impact on prices.
At Dali’s gas station in Eglish, Co Tyrone, motorists knew the value of shopping around.
Business owner Sharon McHugh, who runs a candle company, told us that “such a tool would be helpful, of course. But I’m looking for fuel. I’m waiting and going to the cheaper station.”
In a rural area like Eglish, however, customers do not have the same luxury to choose from as those in the city centers.
Oliver Rafferty, who runs a company that sells fixtures and fittings to the construction industry, said that “it costs money to shop, we buy locally and we stay local, but with diesel and petrol prices they have gone crazy.”
Prices in Northern Ireland may be lower than in other parts of the UK, but so are incomes, and all are affected by the recent increases.
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According to Martin Daly, owner of Eglish Gas Station, said: “Every morning you wait for the email from the supplier looking at the price.
“Because if it’s the day you have to buy and it’s the price you buy at, you look, how am I going to put that price on the totem pole?
“People will say ‘crazy prices here’, but in the end because of the cost we can not sell it at a loss, we have to make some kind of margin, a profit on it.”
With prices rising for the foreseeable future, greater surveillance and transparency across the UK would at least give motorists a clearer picture of where the slightest pain at the pump would be.
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