Commonwealth Bank (CBA) HSI series data for July 2021 clearly shows the impact of lockdowns across Australia, with declines in spending intentions across most categories including home buying, retail, travel, entertainment, education and motor vehicles compared to July 2020.

This is the first time that year on year spending intentions have fallen across most categories since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The only exception is health & fitness spending which remains higher over this period, due to elevated spending for doctors, hospitals, medical labs, nursing & personal care, orthopaedic, osteopaths and podiatrists. 

While spending intentions for home buying, retail, health & fitness and entertainment remain higher than July 2019 – considered the last ‘normal’ year – spending intentions for travel, education and motor vehicles are, for the first time, down in comparison to that same period.

CBA Chief Economist Stephen Halmarick said rolling lockdowns in many states and the extended lockdown in Greater Sydney had impacted most areas of spending.

“Australia’s economic recovery from last year’s COVID restrictions was impressive, as reflected by the sectors of the economy covered by the HSI series. However, this changed in July and, unfortunately, the spread of the delta variant of the COVID-19 virus has seen a combination of rolling lockdowns used across much of Australia including an extended lockdown in Greater Sydney.

“More recent CBA credit and debit card spending data shows the ongoing impact of lockdowns, with national spending to 13 August flat relative to 2020 and up just 4 per cent against the same week in 2019. This supports our view that the Australian economy will contract by 2.7 per cent/qtr in Q3 21 and a revision of our 2021 GDP growth forecast to 3.6 per cent from 5 per cent.”

CBA’s HSI series offers a forward-looking view on Australia’s economy by analysing actual customer behaviour from CBA transactions data, along with household spending search activity from Google Trends. This combination provides a unique insight on prospective household spending trends in the Australian economy.


HSI highlights for July 2021

  • Home buying, retail and entertainment spending intentions down relative to July 2020 – but up on July 2019
  • Travel, education and motor vehicle spending intentions dropped relative to July 2020 and also 2019
  • Health & fitness spending intentions the only category to increase relative to both July 2020 and 2019

Home Buying Spending Intentions


Entertainment Spending Intentions



Notes for Editors:

About our monthly Household Spending Intentions series

Each month, analysis by CBA’s Global Economic and Markets Research team provides an early indication of spending trends across seven key household sectors in Australia. In addition to home buying, the series covers around 55 per cent of Australia’s total consumer spend across; retail, travel, education, entertainment, motor vehicles, and health and fitness.

The HSI series offers a forward-looking view by analysing actual customer behaviour from CBA’s transactions data, along with household search activity from Google Trends.

The approach focuses on Australian households and their spending intentions. Near real-time spending readings from CBA’s household transactions data was combined with relevant search information from Google Trends to map the data results on consumer spending. Households are the dominant part of the economy and drive much of its activity and volatility, and this combination adds to insights on prospective household spending trends in the Australian economy.

Google Trends is a publically available service that enables people to explore search trends around the world. These searches provide insights into what consumers are doing/researching on the Internet and what their spending intentions are.

CBA’s Household Spending Intentions series is published on the third Tuesday of every month. To find out more about the series, visit


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