Future outlook enhanced by Google Trends

The Commonwealth Bank Household Spending Intentions (HSI) series for July 2021 clearly shows the impact of the extensive lockdowns in place across Australia, with declines for Home Buying, Retail, Travel, Entertainment, Education and Motor Vehicle spending intentions. Health & Fitness spending intentions continued to improve. Through H2 20 and H1 21, Australia’s economic recovery was impressive, as reflected by the sectors of the economy represented by the Household Spending Intentions series. However, all this has 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 and the extended lockdown in Greater Sydney.

Read summary

New perspectives can keep you one step ahead

Whether you are running a business, a policy maker, an investor or one of Australia’s corporate enterprises - insights on shifting consumer spending intentions are critical in planning for the future. Our Household Spending Intentions series combines our spending data, one of Australia’s largest financial data sources, with Google Trends publically available search activity. By connecting actual spending data to intentional data, our analysis provides an early indication of prospective spending trends across seven key sectors. This series covers about 55% of the total household spend. Future releases will look to expand our coverage to the  remaining spending components.

Data-driven insights can give your organisation a new perspective and help you keep a step ahead.

Home Buying Spending Intentions

Home buying spending intentions

  • Home buying spending intentions were lower in July 2021 relative to July last year, but higher relative to July 2019
  • The medium-term improvement in home buying spending intentions looks to remain in place and is being driven largely by an increase in home loan applications
  • With interest rates low, and now expected to stay lower for even longer, home buying intentions are likely to remain elevated and this is expected to keep upward pressure on house prices. Indeed, we now expect dwelling prices to rise by 20% in 2021 and then a further 7% in 2022

Retail Spending Intentions

Retail spending intentions

  • Retail spending intentions declined further in July 2021 relative to July last year. Retail spending was, however, stronger than in July 2019
  • Relative to last year, Retail spending was lower in July 2021 for clothing & footwear (across almost all categories), duty free stores, household furnishings & equipment (including furniture, floor coverings, glass, paint and household appliances), jewellery & watch stores, luggage & leather goods stores, barber & beauty stores, cosmetic stores, health & beauty spas, book stores and hobby, toy & games stores. Lockdowns in various states and closure of all but essential retail stores was a big impact
  • Increases in July 2021 relative to July 2020 were seen for; Food & non-alcoholic beverages, department stores, hardware equipment and supplies, digital apps, electronic stores and pet shops with these shops largely remaining open during lockdowns

Motor Vehicles Spending Intentions

Motor vehicle spending intentions

  • Motor Vehicle spending intentions declined in July to be close to the same level as in July 2020. Relative to July 2019, spending on motor vehicles through the CBA network are down, while Google searches are also lower
  • Generally speaking, prior to the current phase of lockdowns spending intentions on motor vehicles had been strong through the first half of 2021. This has been supported by changed transport preferences and the wealth effect from rising house prices

Entertainment Spending Intentions

Entertainment spending intentions

  • Entertainment spending intentions continued to shift downwards in July 2021 relative to July last year – as base effects from 2020 impacted on the data, as well as the renewed lockdowns
  • Relative to July 2020, there were increases in spending on: eating out & restaurants, fast food restaurants, cable & pay TV, digital books, movies, games & music, movie theatres and musical theatre
  • These increases were offset by declines in spending for on-premise alcohol, boat rentals, bowling alleys, music stores and video arcades
  • Relative to June 2019, Entertainment spending is up, with increases in off-premise alcohol, eating out & restaurants, fast food restaurants, cable and pay TV and digital books, movies, games & music. Declines are evident in spending on dance studios, movie theatres, musical and live theatre and video arcades

Travel Spending Intentions

Travel spending intentions

  • After recovering in recent months, not surprisingly Travel spending intentions declined in July 2021 relative to July last year and are substantially lower against July 2019
  • Relative to July 2020, Travel spending was higher in July 2021 for airlines (off a low base), amusement parks, motor home and RV rentals, sport and recreation camps, tourist attractions, travel agencies, car rentals and bus lines. Declines in July 2021 were seen in aquariums, camper & RV rentals and timeshares
  • Against July 2019, travel spending intentions for July 2021 are well down. This includes big falls for: airlines, amusement parks, hotels & motels, sport & recreational camps, cruise ships, timeshare, tourist attractions, travel agents, car rentals and bus lines

Education Spending Intentions

Education spending intentions

  • Education spending intentions turned down in July 2021 relative to July last year, but remain at relatively elevated levels. Actual spending in education was higher on the year, but with Google searches a little lower
  • The number of education related transactions were higher in July 2021 relative to both July 2020 and July 2019. The largest decline in the number of educations transactions relative to 2019 is in university, colleges & professional schools, with the biggest increase in elementary and secondary schools
  • The value of education transactions is down relative to both July 2020 and July 2019 – with significant falls since 2019 in business & secretarial schools, colleges & universities, trade & vocational schools, correspondence schools and elementary & secondary schools

Health and Fitness Spending Intentions

Health and fitness spending intentions

  • Health & Fitness spending intentions remained strong in July 2021, compared with both July last year and July 2019
  • Relative to July 2020, Health & Fitness spending intentions were up for: doctors, hospitals, medical labs, nursing & personal care, orthopaedic and osteopaths. In the Fitness category spending increases were seen in commercial and professional sports and club memberships and public golf courses
  • Compared with July 2019, Health & Fitness spending intentions remain very strong. In the Health sector, the largest increases in spending have been for: osteopaths, chiropractors, doctors, dentists, podiatrists and orthopaedic goods. In the Fitness sector, the largest increases have been in bicycle shops and service, public golf courses and sporting goods stores. Commercial/professional sports spending still remains well below the levels of July 2019

Enhanced by Google Trends

Things you should know


Global Economic & Markets Research (GEMR) has prepared this report. GEMR is a business unit of Commonwealth Bank of Australia ABN 48 123 123 124 AFSL 234945 (Bank). References to the “Group” are to the Bank and its subsidiaries (including Commonwealth Securities Limited ABN 60 067 254 300 AFSL 238814, Commonwealth Australia Securities LLC and CBA Europe Ltd) and includes the directors, employees and representatives of the Bank and its subsidiaries.

No Reliance

This report is not investment research and nor does it purport to make any recommendations. Rather, this report is for informational purposes only and is not to be relied upon for any investment purposes.

This report has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation (including your capacity to bear loss), knowledge, experience or needs. This report is not to be construed as an act of solicitation, or an offer, to buy or sell any financial products, or as a recommendation and/or investment advice. You should not act on the information contained in this report. To the extent that  you choose to make any investment decision after having read this report you should not rely on it but consider its appropriateness and suitability to your own objectives, financial situation and needs, and, if appropriate, seek professional or independent financial advice, including tax and legal advice. The Bank believes that the information contained in this report is correct, and any opinions, conclusions or recommendations made are reasonably held and are based on the information available at the time of its compilation. However, the Bank does not make, or provide, any representation or warranty, either expressed or implied, as to the accuracy, reliability or completeness of any statement made in this report or its suitability to your needs. Any opinions, conclusions or recommendations made in this report are subject to change without notice and may differ, or be contrary, to the opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed elsewhere by the Bank, or any member of the Group. The Bank is under no obligation to update, or keep current, the information in this report. 

The information provided in this report may also include information that is indicative of what the expected outcomes might be, based on assumed facts that are contemplated in this report, and should not be relied upon. Any reliance on this information is at your own risk.  All material presented in this report, unless specifically indicated otherwise, is under copyright of the Bank. None of the material, nor its content, nor any copy of it, may be altered in any way, transmitted to, copied or distributed to any other party, without the prior written permission of the Bank. 

Forward-Looking Statements, Valuations, Projections and Forecasts 

This report may contain statements that are not purely historical in nature, but are ‘forward-looking statements’. Such statements are, or will be, based upon certain assumptions. Actual events are difficult to predict and are beyond the control the Bank. There can be no assurance that any estimated returns or projections can be realised. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance. Any valuations, projections and forecasts contained in this report are based on a number of assumptions and estimates and are subject to contingencies and uncertainties. The inclusion of any such valuations, projections and forecasts in this report should not be regarded as a representation or warranty by or on behalf of the Group or any person or entity within the Group that such valuations, projections and forecasts or their underlying assumptions and estimates will be met or realised.

Liability Disclaimer

The Group does not accept any liability for any loss or damage arising out of any error or omission in or from the information provided, or arising out of the use of all or any part of this report. 

Data of the Bank

Any reference made to the term ‘CBA data’ means the proprietary data of the Bank that is sourced from the Bank’s internal systems and may include, but is not limited to, credit card transaction data, merchant facility transaction data and applications for credit. The Bank takes reasonable steps to ensure that its proprietary data is accurate as at the time of compilation of this report. 

This report may be based on CBA Data. The Institutional Banking & Markets Portfolio & Client Analytics (PCA) team within the Bank provides raw data that may directly or indirectly relate to the themes that have been selected for coverage by the Chief Economist of GEMR. The PCA team are subject to the same personal conflict requirements and trading restrictions as the GEMR team, and individuals are wall-crossed per report. If applicable, any statistical data included in this report only takes into account CBA data. The Bank makes no representation or warranty as to the completeness of the data, as it may not reflect all trends in the market. Any reliance on this information is at your own risk. All customer data used, or represented, in this report is anonymised and aggregated before analysis and is used, and disclosed, in accordance with the Group’s Privacy Policy In certain circumstances Economic Insights reports may be viewed in advance of publication by the Bank’s Marketing and Communications team in order to produce infographics for the report. The Economic Insights report will only be provided to the Bank’s Marketing and Communications team in accordance with the Bank’s conflicts management, confidentiality, information barrier policies and procedures, and trading restrictions.

Bank may act as a Market Maker

In the case of certain products, the Bank or one of its related bodies corporate is or may be the only market maker. Financial markets products have an element of risk. The level of risk varies depending on a product’s specific attributes and how it is used. The Bank will enter into transactions on the understanding that the customer has: 

i. Made his/her own independent decision to enter into the transaction; 

ii. Determined that the transaction is appropriate; 

iii. Ensured he/she has the knowledge to evaluate and capacity to accept the terms, conditions and risks; and 

iv. Is not relying on any communication (including this report) from the Bank as advice

Analyst Certification and Disclaimer

Each GEMR Analyst primarily responsible for the content of this report, in whole or in part, confirms that with respect to each security or issuer that the GEMR Analyst covered in this report: 

i.All of the views expressed accurately reflect his/her personal views about those securities or issuers; and 

ii.No part of his/her compensation was, is, or will be, directly or indirectly, related to the specific recommendations or views expressed by that GEMR Analyst in the report.

Each GEMR Analyst responsible for the preparation of this report may interact with the Bank’s trading desk personnel, sales personnel and other constituents for the purpose of gathering, synthesizing, and interpreting market information to form an independent view. Each GEMR Analyst responsible for the preparation of this report may not hold, or trade in, securities that are the subject of this report or where they have offered a recommendation. Each GEMR Analyst must disclose, and receive approval, for all outside business interests from Compliance and the Head of GEMR prior to commencing the activity or within a week of joining the Group. The compensation of each GEMR Analyst involved in the preparation of this report is determined exclusively by GEMR management and senior Global Markets management (not including investment banking). 

Conflicts of Interest 

The Group may from time to time hold long or short positions in, and buy or sell, securities or derivatives that are referred to in this report. The Group may also engage in transactions in a manner that is inconsistent with the recommendations contained in this report. Directors or employees of the Group may serve or may have served as officers or directors of the subject company of this report.


Unless agreed separately, the Bank does not charge any fees for any information provided in this report. You may be charged fees in relation to the financial products or other services the Bank provides. Applicable fees are set out in the relevant Financial Services Guide (FSG), relevant Product Disclosure Statement (PDS), relevant Terms & Conditions, and/or relevant contract. 

Additional Information 

This report is not directed to, nor is it intended for distribution to or use by, any person or entity, who is a citizen or resident of, or located in, any locality, state, country or jurisdiction where such distribution, publication availability or use would be contrary to any applicable laws or regulations, or would subject any entity within the Group to any registration or licencing requirement within such jurisdiction.


If you have a complaint, the Bank’s dispute resolution process can be accessed on 13 22 21 when in Australia, and +61 2 9841 7000 from overseas.