Commonwealth Bank media release


  • The November Commonwealth Bank Business Sales Indicator saw a 0.4 per cent growth in economy-wide spending 
  • Strong growth experienced in business sales and tourism based sectors 
  • Spending also lifted by 0.5 per cent in the retail sector in the lead up to Christmas

Economy-wide spending remains strong across Australia, with a range of non-mining sectors contributing to a re-balancing of the economy, according to the latest Commonwealth Bank Business Sales Indicator (BSI). 

Spending grew by 0.4 per cent in November in trend terms, after lifting by 0.5 per cent in October, however down on the 0.6 per cent increases seen in July-September. This result continues the uninterrupted trend of economy-wide spending growth each month back to mid-2011. 

Annual growth of spending also remained solid at 7.3 per cent – up slightly from 7.2 per cent in October - remaining well above the decade-average of 5.1 per cent. 

From an industry perspective, the business services sector continued to rise, posting 2.8 per cent growth in November - the ninth consecutive month of growth in business sales. Hotels and motels also experienced a lift of 2.6 per cent, driven by the growth in tourism from the low Aussie dollar; and retail sales grew by 0.5 per cent in the lead up to Christmas. 

The more volatile seasonally adjusted measure of the BSI, however, posted a 0.8 per cent decline in November, after lifting by 0.5 per cent in October, while annual seasonally adjusted growth eased from the 11-month high of 8.9 per cent to 6.1 per cent.

Savanth Sebastian, CommSec Market Analyst, said that the continued growth in spending is a great result for an economy in transition.

“Another consecutive month of growth should be pleasing for businesses, with evidence that the re-balancing of the economy in the wake of the mining boom is taking place. Annual growth figures still show that economy-wide spending remains above the decade average, and this continues a long stretch of positive annual growth dating back to early-2012.

“The strong growth in business services and tourism based sectors should leave businesses and government optimistic that the economy remains resilient and adaptable heading into 2016,” Mr Sebastian said.

Industry analysis 

Aside from the strong results recorded by Business Services (up 2.8 per cent) and Hotels/Motels (up 2.6 per cent), sales in the Mail Order/Telephone Order Providers and the Retail sectors both grew in the lead up to Christmas, rising 1.3 per cent and 0.5 per cent respectively. However the growth in the large Retail sector is down from lifts of 0.7-0.8 per cent experienced over the past six months.

At the other end of the scale, just six of the 19 sectors contracted in November. These included Airlines, Amusement & Entertainment, Automobiles & Vehicles, Government Services, Personal Service Providers, Professional Services Membership Organisations, and Wholesale Distributors & Manufacturers.

State-by-state analysis

Sales rose in six of the eight states and territories in November, with Victoria and Tasmania experiencing the strongest growth, both up 1 per cent. This was followed by the ACT (up 0.9 per cent), Western Australia and Northern Territory (both up 0.7 per cent) and Queensland (up 0.2 per cent).NSW saw sales fall for the month, down 0.2 per cent, as did South Australia with a slight 0.1 per cent drop. 

In annual terms, two states and territories had sales below a year ago: Northern Territory (down 3.5 per cent) and NSW (down 0.9 per cent). Annual growth was strongest in Tasmania (up 11.2 per cent) from the ACT (up 9.4 per cent), Western Australia (up 9.2 per cent), South Australia (up 8.5 per cent), Queensland (up 6.2 per cent) and Victoria (up 3.3 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. 


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Commonwealth Bank Media 
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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.