West Aussies rush supermarkets, pharmacies as Omicron arrives

14 February 2022

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.”

Overall transaction change year-on-year January 2021 V January 2022

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  Value (%) Volume (%)
2021 V 2022
+9
+2
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Top 5 sectors by

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Value of transactions
January 2021
Value of transactions
January 2022
Volume of transactions
January 2021
Volume of transactions
January 2022
Food Stores/Warehouses
Food Stores/Warehouses
Restaurants/Bars
Food Stores/Warehouses
Other retail
Other retail
Food Stores/Warehouses
Restaurants/Bars
Restaurants/Bars
Restaurants/Bars
Other retail
Other retail
Other services
Other services
Service stations
Service stations
Professional services Service stations
Other transport Utilities
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Top 5 sectors by

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Biggest growth in value
Jan 2021 v Jan 2022
Smallest growth in value
Jan 2021 v Jan 2022
Biggest growth in volume
Jan 2021 v Jan 2022
Smallest growth in volume
Jan 2021 v Jan 2022
Travel agencies
+100%
Professional services
-2%
Travel agencies
+74%
Sporting/Toy Stores
-6%
Pharmacies
+41%
Discount stores
-5%
Department stores
+39%
Clothing stores
-7%
Department stores
+28%
Other transport
-11%
Pharmacies
+32%
Auto rental
-7%
Service stations
+27%
Auto rental
-14%
Quasi cash
+27%
Other transport
-14%
Airlines
+24%
Repair shops
-18%
Utilities
+17%
Electrical appliance
-32%
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Weekly pharmacy spend year-on-year

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  Jan 2021 v 2022
Week 1 (%)
Jan 2021 v 2022
Week 2 (%)
Jan 2021 v 2022
Week 3 (%)
Jan 2021 v 2022
Week 4 (%)
 
Jan 2021 v 2022
Total (%)
 
Transaction value
+10
+59 +63 +37 +41
Transaction volume +5 +43 +49 +33 +32
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Weekly grocery spend year-on-year

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  Jan 2021 v 2022
Week 1 (%)
Jan 2021 v 2022
Week 2 (%)
Jan 2021 v 2022
Week 3 (%)
Jan 2021 v 2022
Week 4 (%)
 
Jan 2021 v 2022
Total (%)
 
Transaction value
-2
+25 +21 +11 +13
Transaction volume -9 +10 +8 +4 +3
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Despite year-on-year growth, travel agency spend remains a long way off pre-pandemic levels

Swipe
  Jan 2021 v 2020 (pre-pandemic)
(%)
Jan 2022 v 2020 (pre-pandemic)
(%)
Transaction value
-78
-57
Transaction volume -62 -29
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Sector examples

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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
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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 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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