Business picks up ay the BP garage on Empire Road as customers try to avoid the petrol increase. 040912. picture: Chris Collingridge 819

Tuesday night will see the highest single increase in the petrol price in SA and there is a possibility that it will go up again next month.

As from midnight motorists will pay 93c a litre more for their petrol while diesel will increase by 69c/l.

The wholesale price of illuminating paraffin will also go up 73c/l.

Currently costing R11.04/l in Gauteng, petrol will cost R11.97 as from midnight. It will be R11.62/l at the coast.

The new price of diesel is R10.95/l, and of illuminating paraffin is R8.34/l.

Chief economist at the Efficient Group Dawie Roodt said the increase was a record one, but warned that this was not the end of petrol price inflation.

He said consumers were likely to see a second petrol price increase of about 20c next month, as we had not yet seen the full effect of a weaker rand on the petrol price.

He said the good news was that the price was likely to fall in November by about 20c, and the month after it could come down further, if other factors such as oil and the rand improved.

Roodt compared a change in petrol prices to throwing a pebble in a pond, which caused ripples through other sectors.

“At the moment food prices are going up because of all sorts of international factors because of the drought in the US,” said Roodt. He said food prices generally reacted sooner to other price changes, meaning they would go up quickly.

“The next couple of months are going to be tough, especially for the poorer consumers because they spend a greater percentage of their income on commodities,” he said.

“Food prices could turn around in the next few months.”

We would not see falling prices but the rate of increase would slow, he said.

The food price was also likely to be made worse by a drought in the US, said John Loos, the household and property sector strategist at FNB.

“It will probably be a bit of a double whammy with petrol and food prices increasing,” said Loos, referring to how the SA consumer would be affected.

The idea that some petrol stations would hold back their stock until the price increased was “ridiculous”, said the chairman of the SA Petroleum Retailers Association, MC Lamprecht.

“The loss of reputation and trust [that the petrol station would suffer] far outweighs any advantage they might gain,” he said.

The increase in the petrol price was a “grudge purchase, but it’s something we can’t do without”, said Lamprecht.

Petrol stations are set to be inundated with customers today as people flock to fill up, and Lamprecht asked these consumers to be patient.

“The increase is, if not the biggest increase [in SA] in a month, certainly the second,” he said.

The price hike will hit the transportation industry, among others.

Mango chief executive Nico Bezuidenhout said: “Airlines, as large consumers of fuel, are particularly impacted by high crude oil prices as it represents between 30 and 40 percent of operational input cost, depending on the age of the fleet. Along with the added pressure on consumer disposable income and an already depressed market [this] will squeeze aviation margins further.”

Motoring expert Rob Handfield-Jones said he did not expect SA motorists to change their driving style in an effort to use less petrol.

“Driving’s a habit and it’s very difficult for people to change that habit,” he said.

 The increase was due to crude oil prices, international product prices, and the rand-dollar exchange rate, the Energy Department confirmed in a statement.

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