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CommBank card data shows recovery in household spending resumes

CommBank card data shows recovery in household spending resumes

The following article has been developed by the Global Economic & Markets Research team.

Despite continued weakness in a number of spending categories in Victoria, spending on both goods and services picked up in the week ending 17 July.

  • CommBank household credit and debit card spend data for the week ending 17 July shows that spending on both goods and services recovered from the previous week’s downward turn to be 11.4% higher than a year ago
  • The resumption in household card spending growth was partly driven by a resurgence in spending on education, which is being impacted by semester timing changes
  • Across Australia, online spending rose sharply at the expense of in-store spending
  • The lockdown in Victoria is weighing on eating and drinking out, clothing, personal care and transport in the state

Household spending on goods is up 26% from the same week a year ago, while household spending on services is now just 3% below the same period last year. 

Total household card spending on goods and services is 11.4% higher than a year ago. 

There is considerable week-to-week volatility in the numbers.

Spending by channel

Online spending rose sharply to be 22.2% above the same time last year while in-store spending was 7.4% higher.

Spending by state

Spending momentum in Victoria continues to lag behind the other states, although it did not deteriorate further over the last week, this seems to be due to a lift in education spend due to a change in timing of university semesters.

Spending growth rose in all jurisdictions over the week. There is some concern that rising the coronavirus cases in New South Wales and Victoria, combined with uncertainty over the continuation of the JobKeeper and JobSeeker programs, could impact national spending.

Spending by category

Spending on food goods (primarily at supermarkets and grocery stores) remains high, up 27% from the same period last year. Spending on food services (cafes, restaurants, takeaway, etc) is 8% higher than the same time last year. Total spending on food goods and services is up 20% from the same period a year ago. 

Spending on alcohol services (drinking at hotels, pubs and clubs) is running 6% below last year’s levels while spending on alcohol goods (bottle shops) remains elevated, running 38% above the same period last year. Total spending on alcohol goods and services is 21% higher than the same time last year.

Household furnishings and equipment spending remains strong at 52% above last year’s levels.

Spending on clothing and footwear is 11% above last year’s levels, while spending on personal care (hairdressers, barbers and beauty salons) is softening and is now just 5% higher than the same week a year ago. Both categories were dragged down by softness in Victoria. 

Spending on transport has resumed its slow recovery to be 6% below last year’s levels.

Spending on recreation (including accommodation, air travel and travel services) continued its gradual recovery to be down 6% from the same period a year ago. It continues to lag in Victoria, and to a lesser extent, in New South Wales. However, spending on recreation in Queensland is benefiting from the reopening of the border.

Spending on education rebounded sharply from the plunge in the previous two weeks. This was driven by the payment of university fees in Victoria and related to changes around semester dates. 

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Why is this information helpful?

CommBank’s weekly credit and debit card spend data gives you an up-to-date picture of what people are spending their money on and how this is changing as the coronavirus continues to impact our world and the economy. 

We will be providing further updates to help you understand the impact that the virus is having on businesses and the broader economy.

Note: Weekly CBA household credit & debit card spend data is derived from transaction authorisations to give a near real-time view. This means that cancelled authorisations, refunds, reversals, etc will not be included.  Data has not been adjusted for effects of consumers substituting between cash and card payments.  CBA merchant facility spend data is derived from the Merchant Acquiring System which includes net sales from both CBA and Other Financial Institution (OFI) domestic and international cards

Source: Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Global Economic & Markets Research report “CBA Card Spend – ending 17 July 2020”, published 21 July 2020, author Belinda Allen. Full Global Economic & Markets Research disclaimers can be found at

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