Bankwest’s Spend Trends analysis for May has suggested Western Australians are hibernating for the winter as cost-of-living pressures set in, with key sectors falling significantly in the value and volume of transactions.
Bankwest’s data looked at WA customer credit and debit transactions for May, comparing them month-on-month and year-on-year to provide insights into the community’s response to changing economic conditions.
The month-on-month figures showed Western Australians were responding to inflationary pressures by pulling back on spending across discretionary sectors such as Electrical Appliances, Hardware, and Interior Furnishings.
And there were signs the combination of financial pressures and COVID in the community was resulting in Western Australians hibernating for the winter, with Hotel and Motel spend dropping, and Recreation falling significantly.
Recreation, which includes businesses such as movie theatres, live sport and music events, and community sporting venues, was down 14 per cent in the value and six per cent in the volume of transactions month-on-month.
It was a similar story for Sporting and Toy Stores, which includes non-digital game retailers, outdoor recreation stores, sporting goods, apparel and footwear outlets, falling seven per cent in value and 14 per cent in volume.
However, while there were savings in some areas, cost-of-living pressures in essential sectors continued to hit hip pockets, with several up month-on-month, but the significance of the rise highlighted by the year-on-year increase.
The increases were most evident at Service Stations, which were up 27 per cent in the value of transactions year-on-year, despite remaining relatively stable (+2%) in volume, indicating people were paying far more for the same.
The financial outlay was also being felt in the critical sectors of Utilities (+16% value; +15% volume), Pharmacies (+18%; +13%), Food Stores and Warehouses (+12%; +5%), and Other Transport (+12%; -9%).
However, the travel sector continued to strengthen, with Airlines up 19 per cent in value and 20 per cent in volume month-on-month, and Travel Agencies increasing 17 per cent in value and two per cent in volume.
Bankwest Chief Customer Officer Paul Vivian said: “Western Australians are entering a period of changing and potentially challenging economic conditions, and it’s clear the community is responding to those changes.
“We can see from this data that people are pulling back on spending in quite a few sectors, however, they’re then having to pay more for the same – or, sometimes, less – in other sectors that are considered essential.
“We know from discussions with our partners and community groups, such as Advocare, Anglicare, and Council on the Ageing, that more Western Australians are feeling the pinch, including those referred to as the ‘working poor’.
“We encourage people to take some time to understand and protect their financial circumstances in these challenging times, and any customers experiencing difficulties should get in touch so we can provide support."