April spending growth steadies

April spending economy-wide remained stable, apparently unaffected by the election, according to Commonwealth Bank’s latest Business Sales Indicator (BSI).

Spending rose 0.5 per cent in trend terms in April, after gains of 0.6 per cent in both February and March, and a 0.5 per cent increase in January.

Annual trend sales growth remained steady at 5.3 per cent for the 4th straight month, just below the 5.5 per cent long-term average growth rate.

The seasonally-adjusted measure of the BSI, which measures debit and credit card transactions at Commonwealth Bank merchant facilities, rose 0.3 per cent in April, the 10th gain in the past year.

The continued momentum in April spending was driven by strong growth in the amusement and entertainment and utilities sectors, which were both up 1.0 per cent, and hotels and motels, which was up 0.9 per cent, likely due to the Easter and Anzac Day holiday period.

Retail stores also recorded April spending gains, though sales in clothing stores were down 0.3 per cent, making it the sector with the biggest drop, followed business services and repair services, which were down by 0.2 per cent.

Sales were stronger across all states and territories in April except Northern Territory, where spending was down 0.4 per cent. Queensland saw the strongest growth, up 0.9 per cent), followed by Victoria and Tasmania, both up 0.8 per cent, South Australia, up 0.5 per cent, and Western Australia, NSW and ACT, both up 0.3 per cent.

In annual terms, all states and territories had sales above a year ago except Northern Territory, where sales were down 5.4 per cent. Tasmania had the strongest annual growth, up 7.1 per cent, followed by Western Australia, up 7 per cent. South Australia had the slowest growth, up 3.1 per cent.

This article first appeared on Inside Retail, a sibling publication to Inside Franchise Business.