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Media release

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Media release

Positive signs for business as spending records sixth straight monthly gain

  • Economy-wide spending lifted again in February, rising by 0.4 per cent in trend terms.
  • This marks the sixth straight monthly increase in spending, although softer than the 0.7 per cent gains recorded in each of the previous three months.
  • Annual growth in spending stands at 4.7 per cent in seasonally-adjusted terms.
  • Strongest monthly trend increase in the Amusement & Entertainment sector.

20 March 2013: Australian consumers are continuing to cautiously open their wallets, according to the latest Commonwealth Bank Business Sales Indicator (BSI).

Economy-wide spending grew by 0.4 per cent in trend terms in February, the sixth consecutive monthly increase in spending, although the smallest gain in five months.

The seasonally-adjusted BSI measure also posted a gain of 0.2 per cent in February, extending the 2.0 per cent lift in spending recorded in January. Annual growth in spending now stands at 4.7 per cent in seasonally adjusted terms and 4.8 per cent in trend terms.

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. 

According to Adam Bennett, Executive General Manager, Local Business Banking, Commonwealth Bank, the latest results offer a promising outlook for businesses across the country.

“Although there was a slight decrease in the rate of growth in February, these results remain a positive sign for businesses. In trend terms we’ve now seen six straight months of gains, which indicates consumers are willing to spend even if they are still treading with caution.

“However, businesses need to be mindful that we are still interacting with a persistently cautious consumer and that these patterns will not significantly shift overnight,” said Mr Bennett.

Craig James, Chief Economist of the Bank’s broking subsidiary CommSec and author of the BSI, believes the latest results mimic the broadly positive start to the year seen across the economy.

“When we look at annual spending, overall we are undoubtedly in a better position than we were this time last year. We have seen consumer spending respond in line with positive economic indicators, and this is contributing to the formation of back-to-back spending gains.”  

“However, while spending is up 4.7 per cent in annual terms, we know that consumers are still acting with caution and this sentiment will continue to affect spending patterns in the short term. With the Reserve Bank holding the cash rate steady in February, we have seen consumers maintain cautious optimism when it comes to spending. Despite this, we have seen solid annual gains across a range of sectors and states and this is a good news story for many businesses,” said Mr James.  

Sector Analysis – Strongest monthly trend increase occurs in Amusement and Entertainment

The strongest monthly trend increase in sales occurred in Amusement & Entertainment (up 2.1 per cent), followed by Service Providers (up 1.3 per cent) and Transportation (up 1.0 per cent). Across sectors, five of the industry sectors fell in trend terms in February, up from three sectors in January but level with the December result. Amongst the weakest sectors in February were Mail Orders & Telephone Order Providers (down 3.8 per cent), Business Services (down 0.4 per cent) and Contracted Services (down 0.1 per cent).

In annual terms, spending was notably higher at Amusement & Entertainment (nfp) together with Wholesale Distributors and Manufacturers (up by 17.5 per cent), Retail Stores (up 8.2 per cent), Automobiles & Vehicles (up by 6.2 per cent) and Service Providers (largely financial firms) (up 6.4 per cent).

In annual terms, just three of the 20 industry sectors contracted in February, a similar result to both December and January. Spending fell in Airlines (nfp), Mail Orders & Telephone Order Providers (down 15.2 per cent) and Hotels & Motels (down 1.6 per cent).

State Analysis – Sales rose most in ACT and SA

Sales rose most in the ACT (up 0.9 per cent), followed by South Australia (up 0.7 per cent), NSW, Queensland, Tasmania and Western Australia (each up 0.5 per cent), Northern Territory (up 0.4 per cent) and Victoria (up 0.1 per cent). None of the states and territories recorded weaker sales in trend terms in February.

The trend BSI has now risen for 21 straight months in Northern Territory, for 20 straight months in Queensland, for 19 months in South Australia, for 17 straight months in ACT and for 11 straight months in Tasmania.

In annual terms, no state or territory had sales below a year ago. Strongest growth was posted in ACT (up 12.2 per cent), followed by South Australia (up 10.6 per cent), followed by Queensland (up 7.7 per cent), Tasmania (up 6.7 per cent) and Western Australia (up 6.1 per cent).

 

– ENDS –

Kate Dudman
Commonwealth Bank
(02) 9118 7370
kate.dudman@cba.com.au


About the Commonwealth Bank Business Sales Indicator

  • The Commonwealth Bank Business Sales Indicator is calculated by tracking the value of credit and debit card transactions processed through Commonwealth Bank merchant facilities throughout Australia.
  • The Business Sales Indicator has been devised to provide a monthly assessment of spending trends in the Australian economy (covering 20 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 Business Sales Indicator is tracked in seasonally adjusted and trend terms. The overall Index is measured in both seasonally adjusted and trend terms while state 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 Business Sales Indicator 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 cover just spending at retail establishments, and exclude spending at a raft of other businesses.
  • The Business Sales Indicator includes transactions made at traditional retail establishments such as supermarkets, clothing stores and cafes & restaurants and as such is more comparable to the ABS Household Final Consumption Expenditure released on a quarterly basis. The Business Sales Indicator 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 Business Sales Indicator includes industry sectors based on the International Merchant Category Code (MCC) categories. MCC is a four-digit number assigned to a business when the business first starts accepting cards as a form of payment.

 

Media contact:

Kate Dudman
Commonwealth Bank
(02) 9118 7370