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CommBank latest card spending data looks less bad than a few weeks ago

CommBank latest card spending data looks less bad than a few weeks ago

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

The data offers a glimmer of hope that we may be past the low point of the fall in household spending.

  • CommBank credit and debit card spend data shows that spending momentum has improved over the last two weeks
  • While total spending is still down 10% from the previous year, the most recent data suggests that spending momentum has picked up across a range of goods and services, and across all states and territories
  • Online sales of retail items have lifted sharply over the past few weeks

The CommBank analysis of CBA credit and debit card spending for the fortnight ending 1 May 2020 shows that while household spending is still well down on the previous year’s levels, the annual rate of change has stepped up. Total spending is down by 10% on the same fortnight last year, which is better than mid-April when spending was down by almost 20% compared to the same week in the year previous.

It is early days and the data can be volatile, but it appears that households increased their rate of spending during the second half of April 2020 compared with the first half of the month.

The data predates any easing in restrictions. So possibly households have responded positively to the slow down of the coronavirus’ transmission, giving them confidence to spend at businesses that have been able to remain open. 

This particular data release (fortnight ending 1 May 2020) has reported weekly spending growth rates as rolling fortnightly averages to smooth the impact of the Easter and ANZAC public holidays.

June quarter spending unlikely as weak as mid-April

The data supports our view that the contraction in June 2020 quarter household expenditure won’t be as big as the 20% year-on-year fall in goods and services spend that was evident in mid-April. We expected to see some rebound in card spend and this appears to be happening. Any easing in restrictions, coupled with positive news on the coronavirus’ transmission, may likely further support household expenditure in the near term.

We expect household consumption in Australia to contract by 12% over the June quarter and for the broader Australian economy to fall by 8.5% over that period.

Spending in the fortnight ending 1 May 2020

Download infographic

Category

% change from the same period last year

Clothing

-50%

Personal care

-41%

Transport

-34%

Recreation

-29%

Medical care and health

-16%

Alcohol

-12%

Food

+5%

Household goods and furnishings

+35%

The spending pulse appears to have picked up in all states and territories over the past fortnight. Tasmania, Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory have all outperformed the national fall of 10%. Spending in NSW was down 10% from the same period last year, while in Victoria spending was down 14%.

Spending online has picked up materially over the past few weeks, with spending on retail items online up by 110% over the past fortnight compared with the same period a year earlier.

Why is this information helpful?

The CommBank 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 impacts 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.

Analysis from our CBA credit & debit card spend data to the fortnight ending 1 May 2020 offers a glimmer of hope that we may be past the low point in terms of the contraction in household expenditure. Total credit and debit card spend is still well down on year ago levels. But the annual rate of change has stepped up. Put another way, the second derivative has turned positive, which means that the overall level of spending is now ‘less bad’.

Our latest data bolsters our view that the contraction in Q2 20 household expenditure will not be as big as the 20%/yr fall in goods and services spend that our credit and debit card spend was tracking at mid-April.  We expected to see some degree of rebound in card spend and it looks like that is occurring right now. Any easing in restrictions coupled with positive news on the transmission of the coronavirus could be expected to further support household expenditure in the near term. Our forecast is for household consumption to contract by 12% over Q2 20 and for GDP to fall by 8.5% over the same period.

Source: Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Global Economic & Markets Research report “CBA Card Spend – ending 1 May 2020”, published 5 May 2020, author Gareth Aird. Full Global Economic & Markets Research disclaimers can be found at www.commbankresearch.com.au. 

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