Bankwest’s Spend Trends analysis has revealed how the arrival of Omicron and its spread in the state, combined with supply chain disruptions, led to a surge in spending by Western Australians at supermarkets and pharmacies.
The data also suggested continuing signs of demand from Western Australians in heading abroad, with spend at Travel Agencies doubling compared to the previous year, edging closer to a recovery for the sector.
Bankwest’s analysis looked at WA customer credit and debit transactions for January, comparing them year-on-year, to provide insights into how the community has adapted to its first experience of significant COVID spread.
The data showed Travel Agents ended January up 100 per cent year-on-year in the value of transactions and 74 per cent in volume, as the idea of more easily travelling interstate and overseas edges closer to reality.
However, despite the positive signs of growth and recovery, the industry remains in a challenging position, with the value of transactions in January 2022 still 57 per cent below the same time pre-pandemic in January 2020.
The impact of mass COVID spread in the eastern states on production and supply chains was compounded in late January by floods in South Australia that cut off a crucial transport artery to Western Australia.
The events led to some sparse retail shelves and sparked a surge in spending at pharmacies and supermarkets.
Pharmacies started booming in the second week of January (59% YoY), with Supermarket spend going from on-par year-on-year in the first week of January, to up 25 per cent for a fortnight.
Increasing fuel costs also appeared to be hitting the hip-pocket of Western Australians, with Service Stations increasing 27 per cent year-on-year in transaction value for the month.
The trend of increased spending at Department Stores that has been common in WA throughout the pandemic also continued through January, with the category up 28 per cent year-on-year in the value of transactions.
Bankwest Chief Customer Officer Paul Vivian said: “There are some really positive signs in this data for Travel Agents – one of the sectors hardest hit by the pandemic – as the demand for heading abroad appears to remain.
“However, it’s important to remember how significantly impacted that industry was and, while the volume of Travel Agent transactions is creeping closer to pre-pandemic levels, the value of those transactions is a long way off.
“Increased spending at Pharmacies and Supermarkets is something we’ve seen consistently whenever there is a spike in COVID-related activity, and the shortages created by supply chain issues likely further spurred that urge.
“The rise in transaction value at Service Stations is something many of us can relate to, given increased travel within WA and that the average price of ULP in January this year was up more than 40c a litre on 2021.”