Card spending signals modest consumption lift

Gareth Aird, Head of Australian Economics at CBA, has released card spending data for the week ended 12 June, which points to a modest improvement in spending:

Key Points:

  • CBA credit & debit card spend indicates that expenditure continues to pick up modestly as the economy reopens.
  • A lift inspending on services has driven the overall improving trend.
  • Growth in online sales has eased,while in-store spending has picked up.

Spending on goods has consolidated at an elevated level, while spending on services has picked up, albeit from very low levels.

Growth in on-line spend looks to have peaked, while the easing in restrictions has seen in-store card spend lift.

Growth in CBA in-store household card spend continues to track higher than in-store merchant spend, reflecting the impact that a lack of foreign tourists is having on overall expenditure.

Total retail expenditure is strong primarily because of food retailing. Non-retail spend has improved, but sits well down on year ago levels.

Spending on food goods (primarily at supermarkets) has plateaued at an elevated level. Spending on food services has picked up as restrictions around eating out have been eased.

Spending on alcohol services (e.g. drinking at hotels, pubs and clubs) is still well down on year ago levels. But the trend has improved as restrictions have been eased.

Spending on household furnishings & equipment remains at elevated levels. The spending pulse on transport and recreation has improved, but the level is still well down in annual terms.

Spending on personal care has accelerated very quickly over the past month from very low levels. Medical spend is also on an improving trend.

The states with the highest exposures to the services sectors have had the biggest drag on expenditure from the COVID-19 induced shutdowns.

Many of the ‘smaller’ states have seen growth in card spend return to pre-COVID-19 levels (note that a shift from cash to card spend flatters the annual growth rates).

There is one caveat with this data. Due to bans on cash sales across many outlets, more spending is being done via card, which obviously inflates the spending data (other things equal).

Regardless, spending is slowly normalising.

Leith van Onselen


  1. Yep back to normal, scrap jobkeeper, jobseeker and everything else. The never ending boom requires no leaners. Let them have debt instead

  2. Mark HeydonMEMBER

    What does “annual % change” really mean? The first chart showing Spend by Type shows 20% plus growth in goods for the past 6 data points (6 weeks?).
    If that is the spend on goods compared to the same week 12 months ago, 20% increase is extraordinary, to the point of being not believable. This can’t be what the measure is.
    Without defining what this measure is, the charts and article are all but meaningless.

    And then in the last paragraph from LVO – it is only measuring card payments. So if spending was previously 30 cash / 70 card and it is now 10 cash / 80 card, i.e. 10% down in total, but more heavily skewed to cards, the booming increase shown could actually be a decrease?