Economy-wide spending continues to grow

Economy-wide spending rose 0.7 per cent month on month in March following a 0.5 per cent month-on-month increase in February, representing the strongest growth rate in the past 14 months, according to the latest Commonwealth Bank Business Sales Indicator.

CommSec chief economist Craig James noted that despite declining home prices and modest wage growth, consumers are continuing to spend.

“Since December, it has been encouraging to see monthly growth rates continuing to lift, remaining above the long-term monthly average growth pace of 0.4 per cent,” James said.

“Solid consumer spending remains a source of positive news for the business and the broader economy.”

Twelve of the 19 industry sectors rose over the month, with the largest gains seen in amusement and entertainment and transportation, which both rose 1.6 per cent.

While clothing store sales fell 1.2 per cent from February, the retail industry as a whole enjoyed strong annual growth compared to March 2018.

Spending growth was most pronounced in Western Australia, which rose 0.9 per cent, and Victoria and Queensland, which both saw a 0.8 per cent increase. The Northern Territory saw a 0.4 per cent decline in total spending.

“We are continuing to see strong spending growth in Western Australia, which is up 8.1 per cent in annual terms,” James said.

“This is [the] strongest growth of all states and territories. On the other hand, we continue to see declines in spending in the Northern Territory due to declining population growth.”

Several retailers have already staked out an advantageous position in this burgeoning region, with Winning Appliances, DFO and Vans among those that have opened new stores in Western Australia in the last 12 months.

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