Refunds reveal ongoing cost of COVID on business sectors

6 August 2020

Bankwest analysis of July refund data has revealed the extent to which some business sectors continue to be ravaged by COVID-19, returning millions to West Australians despite little income.

Transaction trends for Bankwest’s WA credit and debit Mastercard accounts between 1-31 July showed little respite for hard-hit sectors, despite the recent easing of restrictions in WA.

The results, which looked at international and domestic transactions, showed businesses in the hardest hit sectors began the financial year by handing back millions of dollars to WA customers.

Travel agencies and tour operators experienced the biggest financial impact of any sector during July, refunding $2.3 million to WA customers, representing 90 per cent of takings from the state.

International/domestic airlines topped the list in terms of volume of refunds, returning about two thirds (65.2%) of turnover from West Australians, with 2500 refunds worth $1.7 million.

Meanwhile, the embattled cruise lines sector reimbursed West Australians more than 3.5 times (366.9%) what they received from customer expenditure – up from 4.3 per cent in 2019.

The data revealed the ongoing impact on some of the sectors hardest hit by the pandemic and the associated restrictions on interstate and international travel, as well as social gatherings.

The same analysis by Bankwest from mid-April to mid-May showed airlines refunded almost $2 million to WA customers, with travel agencies and tour operators handing back $1.1 million.

Bankwest Chief Customer Officer Paul Vivian said: “Our top priority continues to be the wellbeing of customers and the community, and this data shows many businesses are still doing it tough.

“West Australians have been able to enjoy incredible freedoms compared to other parts of the country and we’ve seen the positive impacts that has had on businesses within the state.

“However, there are some businesses for which recovery simply will not be possible until this pandemic is behind us, and that is highlighted in these results, particularly for the travel sector.

“The July data reveals how cruise lines, travel agencies and airlines have continued to hand back millions to customers, while their revenue – and ability to generate revenue – remains stagnant.

“Our thoughts are with those people and businesses doing it tough and hopefully we can return to a normal way of life as soon as possible, allowing those hardest hit to get back on their feet.”

(1 – 3 1 July)

Rank Business type Refunds as % of customer spend Avg $/ refund ($) Total refund amount ($)
1 Cruise lines 4.3 515 58,100
(113 refunds)
2 Travel agencies and tour operators 2.4 358 347,300
3 International and domestic airlines 2.1 298 294,300
4 Theatrical ticket agencies 2.2 182 74,300
5 Sports clubs and promoters 1.1 135 7,300
Rank Business type Refunds as % of customer spend Avg $/ refund ($) Total refund amount ($)
1 Cruise lines 366.9 871 223,900
(257 refunds)
2 Travel agencies and tour operators 89.1 1,623 2,299,300
3 International and domestic airlines 65.2 673 1,742,800
4 Theatrical ticket agencies 35.5 291 468,300
5 Sports clubs and promoters 6.7 107 27,100
About Bankwest
Bankwest’s vision is to deliver brilliant customer experiences that matter and our purpose is to improve the financial wellbeing of our customers and communities. Bankwest provides personal and business banking solutions for more than 1.1 million customers across Australia. Our customers enjoy access to an extensive network of branches and business centres, direct and third-party distribution channels, agencies and electronic banking facilities, as well as 24-hour banking on the telephone, internet and the Bankwest App. Bankwest, a division of Commonwealth Bank of Australia ABN 48 123 123 124 AFSL/Australian credit license 234945.

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