West Aussies retreat from discretionary spending

Cost-of-living pressures reshape spending habits

West Aussies retreat from discretionary spending


By Mina Martin

Bankwest’s latest Spend Trends analysis highlighted how Western Australians are adjusting to the current cost-of-living pressures.

The April report showed a continued decline in discretionary spending following significant drops in March.

Decline in transactions

Bankwest’s Spend Trends tracks WA customer credit and debit activity, revealing that the number of unique customers spending in April fell by 3.4%, with transaction volumes down by 3% year-on-year. However, the average transaction value increased by 7%, indicating that people are paying more for fewer items.

Focus on essentials

Essential spending sectors, such as education and pharmacies, made up three of the top five sectors for transaction volume growth year-on-year. Discretionary sectors, on the other hand, saw major declines. Only two of the 25 sectors analysed saw an increase in the number of customers transacting: airlines (2%) and education (1%).

“Bankwest’s Spend Trends report gives us an important insight into how Western Australians are adapting to economic conditions,” said Peter Bouhlas (pictured above), Bankwest general manager for products and digital services.

“We can see from the April data that cost-of-living pressures continue to impact the community, and people are increasingly focusing spending on the essentials, while pulling back on sectors that are more wants than needs.”

Mixed signals in transaction values

While the average transaction values in sectors like utilities, education, and pharmacies increased year-on-year, there was a slight decline in values at service stations and food stores/warehouses by 2%, suggesting some stabilisation or easing of prices.

“It’s positive to see some stability – and even some easing – in the average value of transactions, which could hopefully indicate some relief on the horizon for people’s hip pockets,” Bouhlas said.

Generational impact

The data suggested that cost-of-living pressures are impacting all generations equally, with no significant differences in spending behaviours between millennials, Gen X, and Baby Boomers.

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