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CommBank's Household Spending Habits During The Rise of Omicron

Senior Economist at Commonwealth Bank Belinda Allen, joins the program. Belinda has extensive experience as financial markets economist. She first joined the Commonwealth Bank Group in 2003 and her work primarily involves developing and communicating views on Australian economy and policy outlook. The CommBank Household Spending Intentions Index for Dec 2021 has been released and has reported that spending across the country rose by 2.5% and was at its highest level since July 2017. This huge turnaround has been propelled by enormous gains in travel, transport, and retail spending. If you went overbudget on your Christmas shopping last year, you certainly weren’t alone. Aussies were a little extravagant during 2021’s Christmas season with retail spending intentions rising by 10.8% in December. The main increases on spending were at specialty retail stores, department stores, clothing stores, electronic stores, jewellery & watch stores, and hardware stores.

With the reopening of state borders in December last year, Aussies were keen to hit the road and get out town. An upswing in summer holiday spending meant that travel spending intentions rose by 28.1%. This was excellent news for the domestic tourism industry with much of the spending spread out across hotels, motels and resorts, travel agents, tourist attractions, trailer parks & campgrounds and trailer dealer categories. It may be no surprise to anybody however, that airline spending has remained weak. As a result, transport spending intentions jumped 11.8% in the month with higher petrol price a key factor as spending at service stations continuing to lift, along with taxi services, tolls, car washes and trailer rentals.

In comparison to pre-covid levels however, public transport spending remained weak due to Aussies making the switch to working form home. Household spending data for December showed a sustained recovery from the Delta lockdowns, although the surge of the Omicron virus has impacted January spending. Due to increased numbers of people isolating, the demand and supply side of the Australian economy has been impacted which could continue. The CommBank HSI Index will be published every month.


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