Bankwest’s latest Spend Trends analysis has revealed the changing face of WA life in a pandemic world, shining a light on the plight of the travel sector, as people hit the roads more, and spend big at department stores.
Bankwest’s analysis looked at millions of WA customer credit and debit transactions, to provide insights into how the state’s community and economy have responded and adapted to the impacts of COVID-19.
The data compared the first quarter of the new financial year (Jul to Sep 2021) with the previous quarter and looked at figures from the start of 2020 through to September 2021 for a year-on-year and pre-pandemic view.
The analysis also looked at the sectors most susceptible to fluctuations from restrictions and changing conditions.
The figures highlighted the damage to Airlines and Travel Agencies, which dropped 90 per cent in turnover from the first quarter of the pandemic (Mar to May 2020) against the previous pre-COVID quarter (Jan to Mar 2020).
Neither industry has shown signs of recovery, despite turnover having increased every quarter since the onset of COVID, with spending in the most recent quarter (Jul to Sep 2021) still 60 per cent below pre-pandemic levels.
Social distancing also appears to have become a way of life for many, with Public Transport spend having stabilised for the past four quarters, but down almost 25 per cent on pre-COVID levels.
That was contrasted by Parking, which was exceeding pre-pandemic turnover by 16 per cent, suggesting Public Transport’s fall was not solely due to more people working from home, but also from them driving themselves.
Other figures also made it clear West Australians were using their cars more, with Service Stations consistently in or close to the Top 5 spend categories across all seven quarters analysed, and the Vehicles category close behind.
The numbers also showed Department Stores were the beneficiaries of increased savings and people remaining in Western Australia, with spending having increased year-on-year across every 2021 quarter.
Bankwest also looked at the fluctuations in spending across the seven quarters to identify the sectors most susceptible to the impacts of COVID-19 and the subsequent health measures enacted by the government.
Recreation (businesses such as cinemas, ice skating, and sports stadiums), Travel Agencies, Hotels/Motels, Airlines, and Education (schools and universities) made up the Top 5 sectors with the most fluctuating spending.
Professional Services (such as insurance), Food Stores/Warehouses (such as supermarkets), Pharmacies, Utilities, and Mail Order (online/digital and physical subscription services) were the Top 5 with most consistent spend.
Bankwest Chief Customer Officer Paul Vivian said: “West Australians have consistently responded and adapted to a new ‘normal’ throughout the pandemic, and this data highlights some interesting trends and changes.
“Some parts of life rarely change, even in a pandemic, and we see that in the industries with consistent customer spend, but there’s other areas that have seen significant and, potentially, permanent shifts in spending.
“Increased spending at service stations makes sense as people holiday within WA, but the consistent reduction in public transport, and increase in parking spend, is interesting and could suggest a change in community attitudes.
“However, we know throughout the pandemic there have also been businesses and sectors hit tremendously hard, and these numbers show how significant COVID’s impact has been on Travel Agencies and Airlines.
“Those businesses will hopefully recover as Australia’s vaccination rate lifts and we begin to open up, but many will require support until they’re back on their feet, and we’ll continue to work with those customers still doing it tough.”