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Commonwealth Bank media release


  • Economy-wide spending increased in November, the 15th straight month of growth.
  • 15 of the 19 industry sectors saw sales rise in trend terms, up from 14 sectors in October.
  • Transportation was the strongest industry sector for the month, with spending up 2.5 per cent.
  • Queensland was the only state to record a decline in spending, easing just 0.1 per cent.

Economy-wide spending grew once again in November, lifting the annual growth rate to its highest level in almost six years, according to the latest Commonwealth Bank Business Sales Indicator (BSI). In trend terms, the BSI rose 0.5 per cent in November to record its 15th consecutive month of growth.

The BSI is a key measure of economy-wide spending, tracking the value of credit and debit card transactions processed through Commonwealth Bank point-of-sale terminals. The November BSI revealed trend spending growth has remained healthy, despite easing from a 0.7 per cent rise in October, after the previous month’s figures were revised to reflect new spending data.

Looking at the more volatile seasonally adjusted measure, spending increased by 0.2 per cent in November, following a 4.1 per cent increase in October. Annual seasonally adjusted growth eased to 9.4 per cent in November, from 10.7 per cent the month before.

According to Adam Bennett, Executive General Manager Local Business Banking, Commonwealth Bank, it’s positive to see business owners benefiting from another rise in spending.

“After a difficult few years, it’s great to see annual spending growth returning to pre-GFC levels. Nonetheless, we’d prefer to see growth accelerating rather than moderating at the start of the peak holiday season.

“Many businesses rely on this period for a high proportion of their annual profits. So while it’s encouraging to see spending rise, it’s still important for business owners to focus on efficiency and good cash flow management, so they can stay well prepared for future spending fluctuations throughout the year,” said Mr Bennett.

Craig James, Chief Economist at the Bank’s broking subsidiary CommSec and author of the BSI, said although consumers have become a little more cautious over the last month, the outlook remains positive.

“November’s slightly more modest spending growth preceded a dip in consumer confidence in December, with confidence levels easing from a multi-year high. Consumers have been worried by job losses across various industries, higher petrol prices, a weaker Aussie dollar and a more subdued share market.

“Nevertheless, the signs are generally positive. Economic growth is improving across the globe, domestic home lending has picked up and interest rates remain low. And while a lower dollar may be disappointing for anyone travelling overseas during the holidays, it’s good news for the economy as a whole,” said Mr James.

Industry analysis – Transportation leads growth, while retail spending declines

In trend terms, 15 of the 19 industry sectors expanded in November. Transportation was the strongest sector, with spending rising 2.5 per cent. Government Services grew by 1.8 per cent, while spending on Hotels & Motels climbed 1.4 per cent.

Spending in Retail Stores fell despite the lead up to Christmas, with sales easing 0.7 per cent in November. Mail Order/Telephone Order Providers experienced the largest fall across the month, dipping 3.1 per cent.

The Amusement & Entertainment sector fell for the first time in 17 months, declining 0.2 per cent in November after a 0.9 per cent rise in October. But in annual terms, the sector remains the strongest performer by far, adding 49.2 per cent in trend terms over the 12 months to November. The next best performer, Wholesale Distributors & Manufacturers, is up less than half as much, at 21.3 per cent.

State and territory analysis – South Australia surges while Queensland remains soft

Sales grew across the country in November, with Queensland the only state or territory to record a fall, dipping 0.1 per cent after three months of flat sales. In annual terms, every state and territory has seen spending rise over the last year. While Queensland was the worst performer, growth remained healthy at 5.3 per cent.

South Australia has continued its recent impressive growth rate, with a 3.2 per cent rise in November adding to October’s increase of 3.9 per cent. South Australia has now led national spending growth for six months in a row, for an annual trend growth rate of 33.9 per cent.

The Northern Territory also continued to post healthy gains, with a trend increase of 1.4 per cent in November — the territory’s 30th consecutive monthly increase.




About the Commonwealth Bank Business Sales Indicator

  • The Commonwealth Bank Business Sales Indicator (BSI) is calculated by tracking the value of credit and debit card transactions processed through Commonwealth Bank merchant facilities throughout Australia.
  • The BSI has been devised to provide a monthly assessment of spending trends in the Australian economy (covering 19 industry sectors and all Australian states and territories) and is available to the public on the Bank’s website and to the media on or around the 20th day of each month.
  • Credit and debit card transactions can be volatile on a month-to-month basis, affected by seasonal and irregular factors. The BSI is tracked in seasonally adjusted and trend terms. The overall BSI is measured in both seasonally adjusted and trend terms while state/territory and industry data are measured using the less volatile ‘trend’ approach. The seasonally adjusted and trend estimates of the BSI results are derived via the SEASABS statistical program from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
  • The monthly BSI has been devised to provide a more timely assessment of spending trends in the economy. The main monthly indicator of spending in the economy is the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ (ABS) Retail Trade release. However these statistics only cover spending at retail establishments, and exclude spending at a raft of other businesses.
  • The BSI includes transactions made at traditional retail establishments such as supermarkets, clothing stores, cafes and restaurants and as such is more comparable to the ABS Household Final Consumption Expenditure, which is released on a quarterly basis. The BSI also covers businesses such as airlines, car dealers and utilities, such as water and electricity companies, as well as motels, business, professional and government services and wholesalers.
  • The BSI includes industry sectors based on the International Merchant Category Code (IMCC) categories. MCC is a four-digit number assigned to a business when the business first starts accepting cards as a form of payment.

For media inquiries please contact:

Kathryn Powditch
Commonwealth Bank
02 9303 1353