Nature escapes, border easing breathes life into WA business

25 May 2020

The easing of intrastate borders and the lure of a long weekend have proven an irresistible pairing, breathing new life into some of WA’s hardest-hit business sectors.

The latest Bankwest Spend Trends analysis has shown the accommodation sector, from the DIY campers to resorts, as among those leading the charge out of COVID-19 uncertainty.

Bankwest’s Spend Trends series compares fortnightly merchant data against a pre-coronavirus period, to help illustrate how the WA community and businesses adapt to the COVID-19 impact.

Additional analysis also compared recent trends to the first week of April – when lowest overall turnover was recorded – to identify the business sectors showing signs of recovery.

The latest data looked at trends for 12-19 May, the same week the State Government opened borders between Perth-Peel and the South West, Great Southern and Wheatbelt (18 May).

The decision, coupled with the easing on 1 May of campground access, had a profound impact on certain sectors, as did the 20-patron dining-out limit for cafes, restaurants and pubs (18 May).

‘Trailer parks and campgrounds’ (82%), ‘Hotels, motels and resorts’ (66%), and ‘Restaurants and dining out’ (62%) rebounded strongly when measured against the peak of the pandemic.

The recovery continued to be led by ‘Barber and beauty shops’, which in 12-19 May turned over almost three-times (278%) the revenue generated at the COVID-19 low point of 1-7 April.

The emergence of the recovering sectors was even more promising when considering the data analysed included only two days (inclusive) of the State Government’s 18 May Phase 2 activation.

The sectors most impacted overall by the COVID-19 pandemic remained largely unchanged, with ‘Travel agencies and tour operators’ (97%) edging closer to 100 per cent reduction in turnover.

Those businesses to have benefited most overall also began to stabilise, with ‘Furniture stores’ (81%), ‘Electrical appliance stores’ (76%) and ‘Automotive tyre stores’ (68%) occupying the Top 3.

Bankwest Chief Customer Officer Paul Vivian said: “There are some really promising signs in what we’re seeing, particularly in how quickly certain sectors respond to government changes.

“We also expect sectors such as accommodation, tourism and hospitality to strengthen even further by next analysis, given this weekend’s public holiday and intrastate border easing.

“There are, of course, sectors that continue to operate in an extremely challenging environment and I hope the recovery of some of these businesses offers promise.

“WA Day will be special this year, with West Australians rightfully proud of their performance through this pandemic and embracing the opportunities that come from restrictions easing.”


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Overall Covid-19 impact

Top 5 merchants by % growth (12-19 May against pre-Coronavirus 22-28 Feb)
Rank Sector % Growth
1 Furniture stores 81
2 Electrical appliance stores
3 Automotive tyre stores 68
4 Bicycle shops 52
5 Special trade contractors 48
Top 5 merchants by % decline (12-19 May against pre-Coronavirus 22-28 Feb)
Rank Sector % Decline
1 Amusement parks
2 Misc recreation services (sports stadiums, gyms, sports clubs, mini golf, laser tag)
3 Travel agencies and tour operators
4 Health and beauty spas
5 Civic and social associations (senior citizen/ community centres, cultural societies, education-related associations [university student guilds, school P+C], union groups, recreational activity groups [such as hiking/sailing clubs])
Road to recovery
Rank Sector COVID drop %
(22-28 Feb v 1-7 Apr) 
% Growth post-COVID drop
(1-7 Apr v 12-19 May)
1 Barber and beauty shops -75 278
2 Trailer parks and camping grounds -64 82
3 Hotels, motels and resorts -73 66
4 Restaurants and dining out -82 62
5 Jewellery stores -66 60
Excludes sectors that experienced less than 50% drop in turnover from pre-COVID to first week of April.

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