Bankwest’s April Spend Trends report has revealed West Australians are reining in spending in response to a year of rising cost-of-living pressures, with the volume of customer transactions falling six per cent month on month.
Bankwest’s Spend Trends report tracks WA customer credit and debit activity to share insights into community responses to economic conditions, with the volume of transactions contracting for the second consecutive month.
The overall volume of customer transactions in April declined six per cent month-on-month, with the average value of those transactions also declining, falling by three per cent from March to April.
The year-on-year figures also showed the value and volume of transactions aligned at nine per cent growth, marking the first time since Spend Trends’ analysis of February 2022 spending that the two have drawn level.
The difference between the growth in the average value of transactions and the volume of transactions has been an indicator of cost-of-living pressures, with value for the past year usually significantly outpacing volume.
A softening in the figures for Electrical Appliance, which has constantly led the volume-value difference, indicates a potential ease in pressures, with year-on-year value growth (+42%) countered by a month-on-month decline (-6%).
The three-pronged hit to the hip pockets of Western Australians had the number of customers spending month-on-month grow in just four of the 25 sectors tracked, as the community adopted more modest spending behaviours.
That was highlighted by Discount Stores (+7%) leading the growth, while Department Stores (-2%) declined, indicating people were choosing cheaper alternatives for items such as clothing and home décor purchases.
The volume of transactions increased in only three sectors month-on-month, while increases in the average value of transactions also significantly slowed compared to previous reports, with growth in just six sectors.
Bankwest General Manager Everyday Banking Philippa Costanzo said: “Current economic conditions are posing challenges for many West Australians, as cost-of-living, interest rate and inflationary pressures combine.
“We can see in our data, whether Spend Trends or the recent Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre report on Housing Affordability, that homeowners, in particular, are doing what they can to manage the changing circumstances.
“We also know from our community partners Anglicare WA and Foodbank WA that demand for their services is reaching unprecedented levels, and this data highlights the spending choices Western Australians are making.
“We’re seeing the number of customers who are spending declining each month, as the cash available in household budgets for discretionary spending continues to dwindle.
“However, the silver lining for the community is we’re no longer seeing the average value of transactions constantly rise and it’s starting to decline in some sectors, potentially indicating cost-of-living pressures beginning to ease.
“We know ongoing financial pressures are likely presenting challenges for many Bankwest customers, and I urge anyone in financial stress – or concerned that they could be in future – to contact us as soon as possible.”