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Retail spending jumped in October as customers returned to shops

Customer spending saw a strong recovery in October, according to CommBank’s Household Spending Intentions Index, with overall spending up 6.6 per cent from the month prior and 4.4 per cent from a year prior.

Retail spending rose 9.1 per cent on September, and 4.1 per cent on the same period of 2020, with the main difference being the widescale easing of restrictions across several Australian states – creating a sharp increase in spending on travel, transport, entertainment, and retail.

“After months of restrictions, Australians are finally free to spend again,” said CommBank’s chief economist Stephen Halmarick.

“The strong index reading for October underscores pent-up demand across the economy, particularly for lockdown-affected sectors such as travel, transport and household services. The data shows that while lockdowns stymied some activity, the underlying economy remains strong and household spending intentions support a robust recovery.”

In particular, the index showed strong rises in spending at department stores, electronic stores, hardware, family clothing, pet shops, household appliances and florists, and showed signs that many people are preparing for holiday events such as Christmas parties with an increase in spending intentions for clothing rentals and tailors.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics will release official spending data for October on Friday, 26 November, but recently found that September’s result was also buoyed by the beginnings of a rebound – with the first month-on-month rebound in spending since May 2021.

According to Australian Bureau of Statistics, sales in Queensland hit their highest level ever during the month, while other states which remained in lockdown continued to struggle.

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