Bankwest’s monthly Spend Trends analysis has for the first time in the past financial year begun to show signs of the cost-of-living squeeze easing, with the start of the new school year prompting a spending boom.
Bankwest’s Spend Trends report for February tracked WA customer credit and debit activity to provide insights into the community response to economic conditions, with a slowdown of growth in the value of transactions.
The analysis showed the average value of transactions month-on-month increased far less (3%) than the number of customers spending, and the volume of transactions, both of which increased by almost a third (both 30%).
It was a result that was the complete opposite to Spend Trends data from the past few months, which has generally shown transaction value outpacing volume, indicating Western Australians were paying more for less.
Electrical Appliances, which have consistently been the leader in cost increases, softened to a 42 per cent difference between transaction value and volume growth year-on-year – a significant change from January (62%).
Western Australians also dusted off their wallets despite cost-of-living impacts, with month-on-month spending growing across almost every sector in the number of customers transacting and the volume of transactions.
Only Sporting and Toy Stores (-11%) declined month-on-month in the volume of transactions.
The return to school was the catalyst for the growth, with Education accounting for a significant portion of the increases, as a runaway leader in both month-on-month customer (160%) and transaction volume (197%) growth.
The data showed the continued recovery of Travel Agencies, which led the month-on-month (15%) and year-on-year (56%) growth in transaction value, while month-on-month transaction volumes grew by more than a third (38%).
The end of school holidays also had some tourism-related sectors contract month-on-month in transaction value, with Auto Rental (-12%), and Restaurants and Bars (-8%) among the leading declines.
Bankwest General Manager Everyday Banking Philippa Costanzo said: “Western Australians have consistently adapted the challenges of uncertainty over the past few years and we’re seeing them do so again.
“These results might appear contradictory, as spending has increased despite rising cost-of-living, but January tends to be a slower month after the Christmas rush, so some month-on-month increases would be expected.
“This month’s Spend Trends figures show the closing gap between transaction value and volume, with volume outpacing value year-on-year for most sectors for the first time since we started looking at cost-of-living last May.
“However, it’s difficult to assess where spending is at, given the impacts of COVID restrictions making year-on-year comparisons challenging, so we might be seeing a return to normal, as opposed to a defiance of cost-of-living.
“We expect challenging economic conditions to remain for some time and we encourage any customers in difficult circumstances – or concerned for their financial future – to contact us as soon as possible."