Commonwealth Bank media release


  • Early signs of budget boost.
  • Economy-wide spending rose in all the states and territories in May, with South Australia topping the list.
  • Government Services enjoyed the highest rise, with an increase in trend terms of 3.1 per cent.

Spending by Australian businesses reached the highest sales growth in three years during May, indicating there are early signs that small businesses have responded to the stimulus contained in the Federal Budget, according to the latest Commonwealth Bank Business Sales Indicator (BSI).

The Business Services sector, which includes businesses such as Office Furniture, Commercial Equipment, Electrical Parts and Computers, and Computer Equipment and Software, recorded spending growth of 1.9 per cent in trend terms in May – the biggest rise since May 2012.

Overall, the broader BSI grew by 0.8 per cent in trend terms in May after similar gains in March and April. Annual sales growth stood at 7.5 per cent, well above the decade average of 5.3 per cent.

“May’s growth in sales will be welcome news for Australian business owners, suggesting businesses and consumers across the country are feeling confident about spending off the back of the Federal Budget,” said Claire Roberts, Executive General Manager, Local Business Banking, Commonwealth Bank.

“However, conditions can differ in particular industries and regions, so it’s essential that businesses continue to plan for fluctuations in sales.”

The seasonally adjusted estimate of the BSI or economy-wide spending rose for the third straight month, up by 1.0 per cent in May. This follows a 1.8 per cent lift in April and 1.8 per cent in March, capping the strongest three-month gain in two years. Annual growth remained strong at 8.4 per cent, the highest growth since November last year.

“The latest sales figures indicate that consumer spending will continue to rise in the year ahead, fuelled by low interest rates, a firmer job market and improving economic outlook,” said Craig James, Chief Economist at CommSec and author of the BSI report.

“The growth experienced by a number of industry sectors in May also suggests that businesses are responding to the stimulus measures in the latest Federal Budget, like new tax breaks for small businesses.”


Across sectors, spending fell in just two of the 19 industry sectors in trend terms in May. Sectors which experienced contractions were Airlines and Mail Order/Telephone Order Providers.

Among the strongest sectors in May were Government services (up 3.1 per cent); Amusement & Entertainment (up 2.8 per cent) and Business Services (up by 1.9 per cent). The growth experienced in the Business Services sector was the biggest monthly lift in three years.


Sales rose in all states and territories in May in trend terms. The highest growth was in South Australia (up 1.3 per cent), the ACT (up by 1.1 per cent) and Victoria (up 1.0 per cent). Western Australia, NSW and Queensland all experienced the same growth (up 0.9 per cent) followed by Tasmania (up 0.3 per cent) and the Northern Territory (up by less than 0.1 per cent).

The trend BSI has risen for 47 straight months in Queensland, for 39 straight months in Tasmania, and for 12 months in ACT and Western Australia.

In annual terms, only the NSW and Northern Territory had sales below a year ago in May (down 6.1 per cent and 6.0 per cent respectively). At the other end of the scale, growth was strongest in ACT (up 15.7 per cent), South Australia (up 8.1 per cent), Western Australia and Queensland (both up 6.2 per cent), Tasmania (up 6.7 per cent) and Victoria (up 1.9 per cent).

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.


Find out more about the latest Commonwealth Bank Business Sales Indicator.

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 further media enquiries, please contact:
Commonwealth Bank Media Relations
Ph: 02 9118 691