West Aussies hibernate for winter, as cost-of-living pressures bite

20 June 2022

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."

Overall transaction change

  Value (%) Volume (%)
Year-on-year (May 2022 v May 2021)
Month-on-month (May 2022 v April 2022) +1 +1

Cost-of-living focus

Top sectors by difference between transaction value and volume

  Year-on-year volume (%)
Year-on-year value (%) Difference (%)
Travel agencies
+280 +89
Airlines +195 +112 83
Electrical appliance -1 -35 34
Service stations +27 +2 25
Other transport +12 -9 21

Year-on-year top 5 sectors by

Biggest growth in value
May 2021 v May 2022

  Smallest growth in value
May 2021 v May 2022
  Biggest growth in volume
May 2021 v May 2022
  Smallest growth in volume
May 2021 v May 2022
Travel agencies
+280 Repair shops
-22 Airlines
+112 Electrical appliances
Airlines +195 Discount stores
-4 Travel agencies
+89 Other transport
Quasi cash
+51 Electrical appliances
-1 Quasi cash
+60 Discount stores
Service stations
+27 Vehicles +1 Other retail
+16 Repair shops
+21 Education
+2 Auto rental
+16 Sporting and toy stores

Month-on-month top 5 sectors by

Biggest growth in value
April 2022 v May 2022

  Smallest growth in value
April 2022 v May 2022
  Biggest growth in volume
April 2022 v May 2022
  Smallest growth in volume
April 2022 v May 2022
+19 Recreation
-14 Education
+51 Sporting and toy stores
Travel agencies
+17 Hotel/Motel
-7 Airlines
+20 Interior furnishings
Other transport
+8 Sporting and toy stores
-7 Auto rental
+9 Electrical appliances
Other services
+7 Discount stores
-5 Pharmacies
+9 Hardware
+6 Interior furnishings
-5 Other transport
+6 Recreation

Sector examples

Sector Examples
Airlines Self-explanatory
Auto rental Self-explanatory (general and commercial)
Clothing stores Single-brand stores, as opposed to multi-brand department Store retailers
Department stores Large department stores and chains, not including discount department stores
Discount stores Discount department stores and budget lifestyle and homeware retailers
Electrical appliance Whitegoods retailers, home entertainment stores, mobile and computing device outlets, computer games
Food stores/Warehouses Includes grocery stores, as well as wholesale food distribution warehouses
Hardware Hardware retailers and chains, landscaping specialists, home DIY retailers
Hotels/Motels Self-explanatory
Other retail Online marketplaces, online arms of bricks-and-mortar retailers, discount department stores, liquor stores
Other services Courier services, public administration, newspaper subscriptions, roadside assistance companies
Other transport Ride sharing companies, taxis, private and public paid parking
Pharmacies Self-explanatory
Professional services All types of insurance, waste disposal services
Quasi cash Casino and gambling activities
Repair shops Cobblers, tailors, electrical appliance repairs, watchmakers, mobile phone repairs
Restaurants/Bars Self-explanatory
Service stations Self-explanatory
Sporting/Toy stores Non-digital game retailers, outdoor recreation stores, sporting goods, apparel and footwear outlets
Travel agencies Self-explanatory (online and bricks-and-mortar)
Utilities Typical utility services, streaming services
Vehicles Automotive dealerships, automotive and car care accessory retailers, repairs and servicing

About Bankwest
Bankwest’s vision is to deliver brilliant customer experiences every day and our purpose is to build a brighter future for all. Bankwest provides personal and business banking solutions for 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 app. Bankwest, a division of Commonwealth Bank of Australia ABN 48 123 123 124 AFSL/Australian credit license 234945.

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