Commonwealth Bank media release


  • The January Commonwealth Bank Business Sales Indicator saw 0.3 per cent trend growth in economy-wide spending
  • Spending is up 7.1 per cent on a year ago
  • Retail sector slows but there was solid growth in the business and government sectors

Economy-wide spending slowed in January after solid growth in 2015 according to the latest Commonwealth Bank Business Sales Indicator (BSI).

Spending grew in trend terms by 0.3 per cent in January, after lifting by 0.4 per cent in December and 0.5 per cent in November. While this result remains in line with the decade average, monthly spending growth was well above average over most of 2015, particularly during the March-June period.

Annual growth of spending also eased from 7.3 per cent to 7.1 per cent in January. However this result remains well above the decade-average of 4.8 per cent growth and has remained at healthy levels for the past ten months.

The more volatile seasonally adjusted measure of the BSI rose by 0.6 per cent in January, after a 0.9 per cent gain in December, while annual seasonally adjusted growth lifted from 7.4 per cent to 7.6 per cent.

Craig James, Chief Economist, CommSec, said that while growth may have slowed, businesses should not be too alarmed.

“While spending growth has eased, it follows solid gains in 2015 and the result still remains in line with the decade average.

“Although businesses would have liked to see a more positive start to the year, particularly in the retail sector, consumer confidence remains high and interest rates remain at record lows. Additional data shows that business lending in 2015 was not far off the record highs set during the mining boom, showing that businesses remain optimistic,” Mr James said.

Industry analysis

The retail sector saw a slowdown in spending growth, growing by just 0.1 per cent - the slowest growth in 28 months. The 0.2 per cent fall in sales at Clothing Stores was the biggest in 17 months.

Of the sectors experiencing gains, notable was Government Services, up 3.1 per cent, the fifth consecutive month of growth. Business Services rose by 1.5 per cent in January, the 11th straight gain.

At the other end of the scale, six of the 19 industry sectors fell in trend terms in January, including Airlines, Professional Services Membership Organisations, Clothing, Transportation, Contracted Services and Amusement & Entertainment.

State-by-state analysis

Sales rose in all but one of the states and territories in January, with the Northern Territory posting the strongest growth (up 1.5 per cent), followed by NSW (up 1.1 per cent), ACT (1.0 per cent), Victoria (up 0.9 per cent), Tasmania (up by 0.7 per cent), Western Australia (up 0.6 per cent) and Queensland (up 0.5 per cent). South Australia was the only state or territory to experience a small decline in sales, down 0.05 per cent.

Every state and territory posted sales above a year ago. Strongest growth was in Tasmania (up 12.7 per cent) followed by ACT (up 11.1 per cent), Western Australia (up 10.3 per cent), Victoria (up 7.8 per cent), Queensland (up 7.6 per cent), NSW and South Australia (both up 6.7 per cent) and the Northern Territory (up 4.9 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.

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Commonwealth Bank Media
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