Today is the last chance for motorists to benefit from heavily discounted fuel shopper dockets, with supermarket giants to reluctantly shelve their biggest cut-price petrol deals in the new year.
In a last hurrah, Coles yesterday upped its discount to 25 cents a litre off petrol at its Shell service stations for customers who bought $100 or more of groceries.
Woolworths has declined to match the offer but is giving customers dockets for 20 cents a litre off petrol at its Caltex outlets for spending $100 or more in its stores, plus an extra 4 cents if they spend $5 at the petrol station store.
From tomorrow, the retail chains will limit their offer to 4 cents a litre for customers making eligible purchases at their supermarkets after bowing to pressure from the competition watchdog.
Service stations owned by the companies will be able to offer larger discounts but they will have to be funded out of fuel retailing or petrol station store sales.
At the peak of the fuel war, shoppers were being wooed with discounts as high as 45 cents a litre off their petrol.
But small business argued it was forcing independent service stations out of business and accused the chains of subsidising their discounts from their grocery profits.
With the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission flagging a crackdown as part of its long-running investigation into the schemes, Coles and Woolworths agreed earlier this month to stop deep discounts from January 1.
A Woolworths spokeswoman said the company was disappointed it could no longer offer bigger discounts on fuel, particularly at a time when cost of living pressures remained a concern.
She maintained there was no competition problems from fuel discounts, with the ACCC's own figures showing independent petrol retailers grew their market share over the past year from 17 to 18 per cent.
WA Independent Grocers Association president John Cummings said while ending deep discounts was a small step towards a level playing field in the retail sector, the ACCC should have outlawed all cheap fuel offers.
He said the ACCC had reached a "pally arrangement" with Coles and Woolworths.
"If the practice is deemed to be not good for competition, why do you continue to allow it to run," Mr Cummings said.