West Aussies wander out yonder, as state scores big with AFL hub

27 July 2020

WA’s ailing economy is receiving a timely boost from the tourism and entertainment sectors, with Bankwest Spend Trends data showing overall business turnover topping pre-COVID levels.

Data showed average overall turnover grew by about 11 per cent each time WA restrictions were eased and, at mid-July, was up about 19 per cent on pre-COVID levels.

The latest growth came off the back of the continued recovery of the tourism sector, as West Australians embraced school holidays and the State Government’s plea to ‘wander out yonder’.

Turnover for hotels, motels and resorts in the Phase 4 period (27 June-19 July) surged 65 per cent against Phase 3 (6-26 June), as business also boomed for trailer parks/camping grounds (53%).

However, it was ‘Recreation Services’†, which includes Optus Stadium, that underpinned the growth, as Phase 4 turnover swelled an enormous 470 per cent against the Phase 3 period.

The result came as Perth’s hosting of an AFL hub combined with the State Government’s Phase 4 easing, returning live sport to Optus Stadium and allowing 30,000 people into the venue to see it.

The category was also bolstered by gyms, which benefitted from Phase 4 changes granting further freedoms to the venues, allowing them to operate unstaffed if cleaned regularly.

‘Personal Services’ entered the Top 5 growth sectors from Phase 3 to 4, with turnover lifting 46 per cent as businesses such as tattoo parlours and pet boarding services resumed.

Bankwest GM Analytics Simon Lewis-Jones said: “It’s great to see West Australians making the most of their opportunities, and these results are heartening for the state’s economic recovery.

“The situation in other parts of Australia is a sobering reminder of the gravity of this pandemic and I think these results reflect West Australians’ gratitude for the freedoms they’re afforded.

“What makes these results so promising to see is they show recovery for some of the hardest hit sectors, such as recreation services, which flatlined with a 100 per cent drop in turnover.

“The recovery of parts of the tourism sector is also positive, but it’s important to remember other businesses, such as travel agencies, remain significantly impacted and likely will for some time.

“These results are incredibly promising and important as West Australians get back on their feet, but we must remain vigilant for those still impacted and hope for an end to this pandemic soon.”

Recreation Services includes businesses such as sports stadiums, gyms and activities such as mini golf and laser tag.

Bankwest Spend Trends – Phase-by-phase analysis

Full restrictions (23 March to 26 April)

The raising of hard interstate borders, limits on intrastate travel, restrictions on gatherings, physical distancing measures and the closure of schools came into effect at the end of March.

The measures and their impact on businesses meant the majority of West Australians became homebound and were required to adapt to a new normal, with spending habits following.

Time and money were ploughed into gardens and homes (nurseries 56% lift on pre-restrictions; hardware stores 31%), while distancing restrictions had cyclists on their bikes (53%).

Tobacco and liquor stores also saw increases in turnover compared to pre-restrictions, up 12 per cent and 11 per cent, respectively.

Full restrictions v Pre-restrictions

Top 5 merchants by % growth
Pre-restrictions: 1 Mar – 22 Mar | Full restrictions: 23 Mar – 26 Apr
Rank Sector % Change
1 Nurseries, lawn and garden supplies 56
2 Bicycle shops 53
3 Hardware stores 31
4 Tobacco stores 12
5 Liquor and beer stores 11

Phase 1 (27 April to 17 May)

The WA Government’s first phase of restriction-easing permitted non-work gatherings of up to 10 people, compliant outdoor personal training and recreational activities, and home opens.

West Australians took to the taste of life outside the home by flocking to shoe stores (301% increase on full restrictions), barber shops (92%), sports stores (88%) and jewellers (80%).

However, the restrictions still in place required people to remain at home for much of their time, which had furniture stores experience a 67 per cent increase in turnover against full restrictions.

 Phase 1 v Full restrictions

Top 5 merchants by % growth
Full restrictions: 23 Mar – 26 Apr | Phase 1: 27 Apr – 17 May
Rank Sector % Change
1 Shoe stores
2 Barber and beauty shops
3 Sporting goods and apparel stores
4 Jewellery stores
5 Furniture stores

Phase 2 (18 May to 5 June)

WA’s Phase 2 permitted non-work gatherings up to 20 people, while cafes and restaurants (including pubs/bars/clubs/hotel/casino) with meal service could open with a 20-patron limit.

Further easing applied to weddings/funerals, regional travel, non-contact community sport, places of worship and public pools, while people were encouraged to return to work.

The response from West Australians had hotels/motels/resorts (97% lift against Phase 1), trailer parks/camping grounds (71%) and restaurants (70%) all begin their recovery from COVID-19.

The allowance of non-contact sport also had sports and club membership turnover lift (66%), while shoe stores (54%) continued their revival as people restocked social and work wardrobes.

Phase 2 v Phase 1

Top 5 merchants by % growth
Phase 1: 27 Apr – 17 May | Phase 2: 18 May – 5 Jun
Rank Sector % Change
1 Hotels, motels and resorts
2 Trailer parks and camping grounds
3 Restaurants and dining out
4 Sports and club memberships
5 Shoe stores

Phase 3 (6 June to 26 June)

WA’s most significant change to restrictions at the time permitted more businesses to open, with physical distancing guidelines revised to 2sqm and non-work gatherings significantly increased.

Full contact sport and training was permitted, while galleries, cinemas and theatres, gyms, beauty salons and spas, playgrounds/play centres, Rottnest Island and the Perth Zoo re-opened.

The result was comprehensive for health and beauty spas (633% lift against Phase 2), which experienced the most significant increase in turnover within phases of any business category.

Recreation services (242%) – gyms, stadiums, and activities such as mini golf – and pubs, taverns and inns (116%) had strong growth, while travel agencies/tour operators (95%) also improved.

Phase 3 v Phase 2

Top 5 merchants by % growth
Phase 2: 18 May – 5 Jun | Phase 3: 6 Jun – 26 Jun
Rank Sector % Change
1 Health and beauty spas
2 Recreation services
3 Pubs, taverns and inns
4 Travel agencies and tour operators
5 Restaurants and dining out

Phase 4 (27 June to current)

The “world leading” efforts of West Australians in adhering to restrictions and helping eliminate community spread of COVID-19 was rewarded with the removal of several measures entirely.

Gathering limits were removed and replaced by WA’s 2sqm rule, pub-goers could grab a beer at the bar, many events and performances were allowed, and major stadia opened at half-capacity.

Recreation services (470% against Phase 3) again saw a significant increase in turnover, as gyms were granted further freedoms, while the removal of intrastate borders had a profound effect.

Hotels, motels and resorts (65%), and trailer parks/camping grounds (53%) continued to experience growth, as did confectionary stores (91%), as life edged closer to normal.

Personal services (46%) – such as tattoo parlours, photography studios and pet boarding kennels – benefitted from reduced physical distancing and the removal of internal borders.

Phase 4 v Phase 3

Top 5 merchants by % growth
Phase 3: 6 Jun – 26 Jun | Phase 4: 27 Jun – 19 Jul
Rank Sector % Change
1 Recreation services
2 Candy, nut and confectionary stores
3 Hotels, motels and resorts
4 Trailer parks and camping grounds
5 Personal services
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