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Bricks-and-mortar sales slip

success-growth-business-1Spending across the economy has risen for a fourth straight month but has tapered off from the highs seen over the past two months, a survey by Australia’s largest lender shows.

The Commonwealth Bank’s Business Sales Indicator (BSI) showed a rise of 0.5 per cent in economy-wide spending in January, down from monthly growth rates of 0.7 to 0.8 per cent but still above the long-term average monthly growth pace of 0.4 per cent.

The BSI measures economy-wide spending by tracking the value of credit and debit card transactions processed through the bank’s merchant facilities across Australia.

Spending rose across 16 of the 19 industry sectors in January, driven by a 2.1 per cent increase in automobiles and vehicles sales and a further 1.9 per cent rise in spending in service providers following a 2.3 per cent gain in December.

Only two of the 19 industry sectors recorded weaker sales in annual terms: Mail Order/Telephone Order Providers and Retail Stores.

Retail stores slipped by 0.7 per cent.

The BSI tracks the value of credit and debit card transactions processed through Commonwealth Bank point-of-sale terminals and covers spending broadly across the economy rather than just retail sales, including spending on automobiles, personal services and airlines.

In both October and November sales rose at a 0.8 per cent pace before dipping slightly to 0.7 per cent in December.

CommSec chief economist Craig James said the figures marked a good start to the new year for businesses.

“While we’re seeing growth slow from the highs of the past two months, January spending was still ahead of the long-term average monthly growth pace,” James said.

“Consumer confidence remains high, interest rates remain low and local businesses should remain optimistic about the coming 12 months.”

Spending was up in all eight states and territories, with the Australian Capital Territory and Tasmania seeing the strongest monthly rise of 1.1 per cent.

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