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Commonwealth Bank media release


  • Economy-wide spending grew by 0.3 per cent in October, the softest rate of growth in two years
  • Thirty-ninth consecutive month of growth according to the Commonwealth Bank Business Sales Indicator
  • Spending rose in 14 of 19 industry sectors; Service Providers saw the greatest growth at 4.6 per cent
  • Across the states and territories, sales rose in all but NSW (sales were unchanged)

Economy-wide sales increased nationwide by 0.3 per cent in October, although it was the lowest level of growth in two years, according to the Commonwealth Bank’s latest Business Sales Indicator (BSI).

The October BSI fits an overall pattern of slower sales growth over the past six months. The October rate compares with 0.4 per cent growth in September, 0.5 per cent growth in August, July and June, and 0.6 per cent growth in May and April.

Adam Bennett, Executive General Manager Local Business Banking, Commonwealth Bank, said: “While the recent trend of slowing sales growth will be concerning for businesses, the overall picture is a more positive one, with sales having now increased for 39 months consecutively and annual growth consistently above the long-term average.

“It’s important for businesses to go into the festive season with a plan to maximise their performance in this typically busy trading period. Or if your business slows down over Christmas, use the time to prepare a business plan for next year to ensure you capitalise on sales when things pick up,” said Mr Bennett.

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.

Other key findings from the October BSI include:

  • Annual growth in seasonally adjusted sales eased from 9.2 per cent to 8.0 per cent – but was still above the 6.4 per cent long-term average.
  • The seasonally adjusted estimate of spending rose by 1.4 per cent in October, up from a revised 0.4 per cent fall in September.

Craig James, Chief Economist at the Bank’s broking subsidiary CommSec and author of the BSI report, said economic conditions were generally favourable for future sales growth.

“Consumer confidence is good, but by all means not great. But there are signs of improvement in the job market while higher housing prices and construction are serving to underpin spending,” said Mr James.

Industry analysis

Across industries, spending fell in just five of the 19 sectors in trend terms in October.

For the fifth month in a row, the strongest sector in October was Service Providers – largely finance and insurance companies (up 4.6 per cent). Other top performers were Transportation (up 2.3 per cent), Airlines (up 1.5 per cent), Hotels & Motels and Wholesale Distributors & Manufacturers (both up 1.0 per cent).

The biggest decline in sales was in the Mail Order/Telephone Order Providers sector (down 3.3 per cent). Also in decline were Government Services (down 1.8 per cent), Automobile/Vehicle rentals (down 0.8 per cent), Utilities (down 0.6 per cent) and Automobile/Vehicle sales (down 0.4 per cent).

State by state analysis

The only state that didn’t see any increase in sales in October was NSW, where sales were unchanged in the month. The flat result in NSW follows generally strong growth over the past 25 months.

Of the other states and territories, leading the gains was the ACT (up 1.7 per cent). South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania also saw solid gains in growth (all up 0.7 per cent). Victoria came slightly behind them at 0.6 per cent growth, and Queensland achieved 0.5 per cent sales growth.

The trend BSI has now risen for 40 straight months in Queensland, for 32 months in Tasmania, and for 25 months in South Australia. Sales in Victoria have been either flat or higher for 40 consecutive months.



Find out more 

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.

Media contact:

Sarah Gibbons
Commonwealth Bank
M: 0403 681 515