Bankwest’s latest Spend Trends analysis has helped paint a clearer picture of the daily impacts of cost-of-living pressures on Western Australians, with transaction values spiking across several sectors despite volumes falling.
And the data has also shown that for the first time since the global pandemic began, Travel Agents have not only returned to – but exceeded – pre-COVID turnover levels in value and volume, signalling the industry’s recovery.
Bankwest’s analysis looked at WA customer credit and debit transactions for April, comparing them year-on-year to provide insights into the community’s response to changing economic, pandemic, and travel conditions.
The data showed Western Australians responded to the rising cost-of-living by reining in spending in discretionary areas, with transaction volumes falling year-on-year in sectors such as electrical appliance retailers (-31%).
However, instead of following the declining trend of transaction volumes, the value of customer transactions rose, indicating Western Australians were outlaying more than they did at the same time last year, despite buying less.
That swing was present in every significant sector, including those that would be considered essential, with transaction values outpacing volumes in food stores by seven per cent, validating reports of rising grocery bills.
It was a similar story for Pharmacies, with volume of transactions understandably rising by six per cent compared to the same time in 2021, but the value of those transactions increasing by 16 per cent.
The analysis also highlighted the true cost being borne by Western Australians at the bowser, with the volume of transactions at service stations falling by one per cent year-on-year but surging in value by 21 per cent.
Rising fuel prices also flowed into other sectors, with the volume of transactions in Other Transport – which includes taxis, ride shares, public transport, and parking – falling by six per cent, but the value rising by 10 per cent.
However, the data also revealed positive news for the long-suffering travel industry, with transaction volumes for Travel Agents exceeding pre-COVID levels (Apr-22 v Apr-19) by 13 per cent, and their value almost identical.
The recovery came off the back of an April spending-spree, with Travel Agents transaction volumes up 82 per cent year-on-year, and values more than tripling (233%), with similar growth experienced by Airlines (85% and 159%).
Bankwest Chief Customer Officer Paul Vivian said: “This data confirms the community concerns being voiced around cost-of-living pressures and highlights some of the areas putting pressure on Western Australians.
“It’s clear Western Australians are attempting to rein in their spending, which we can see from either the stable or declining volumes of transactions year-on-year, yet they’re being asked to pay more than they did in 2021.
“The data is showing multiple price pain points for customers, with increasing costs at the supermarket, the bowser, when traveling by ride share or catching public transport, and even at department stores and pharmacies.
“We believe challenging economic conditions may be here to stay for a while, so we encourage all customers to ensure they are in the best possible financial position and to contact us as soon as possible if they require support.
“However, it’s a far more positive story for travel agents, as they finally returned to pre-COVID turnover levels, but it’s important to remember how decimated they were, and their recovery will require sustained levels of spend.”