Australian card spending bounced back last week, as NSW residents flocked to the hairdresser and the shops for the first time in months

Australian card spending bounced back last week, as NSW residents flocked to the hairdresser and the shops for the first time in months
Shoppers on Pitt Street Mall in Sydney, Australia, on Monday, Oct. 11, 2021. Residents of New South Wales who have received both doses of the covid vaccine were on Monday again allowed to start visiting non-essential retail stores, pubs and gyms, with capacity limits. The government eased lockdown measures once 70% of people over age 16 were fully vaccinated. Photographer: Brendon Thorne/Bloomberg via Getty Images
  • Australian card spending rebounded last week, the Commonwealth Bank says, with the lifting of NSW lockdown restrictions a major factor.
  • Card spending in the state rose to 17% above 2019 levels as residents rushed to the hairdresser and retail stores.
  • Optimism in Victoria also drove spending up, as the south-eastern states accelerate their COVID-19 restriction roadmaps.
  • Visit Business Insider Australia’s homepage for more stories.

Card spending continued to bounce back across Australia last week, the Commonwealth Bank says, driven by renewed consumer purchases across New South Wales and optimism in other locked-down jurisdictions.

CommSec reports NSW card expenditure rebounded through the week, thanks to the easing of COVID-19 lockdown restrictions and the reopening of brick-and-mortar businesses.

The state saw card spending grow to levels not seen since lockdowns kicked in through June, with expenditure winding up 17% higher than the corresponding week in 2019 — up nearly 8% from the week prior.

The bank puts much of this spending down to the reopening of hairdressers and beauty services, which flung open their doors last Monday.

Over the first four days of the week, health and beauty spas recorded sales 676% higher than the week prior.

For hairdressers and barbers, that figure was 694%, and remedial massage therapists tallied spending 735% higher than the week before.

Optimism spread to other retail sectors, too, with spending at the state’s clothing retailers rising by 336%. Spurred by the promise of renewed travel allowances, CBA says luggage retailers booked a massive 830% spending spike over the first four days of the week.

While Victoria had to wait until Sunday for the unveiling of the state’s own reopening plan, spending in the locked-down state also rose.

With the harshest lockdown measures easing from midnight Thursday, the bank said it expects card purchases to rise even higher above 2019 levels.

The bank’s data only captured one day of spending after lockdowns lifted in the Australian Capital Territory.

However, that spending alone helped lift the region’s expenditure to 1.3% above 2019 levels — compared to the -4.4% rate tallied the week before.

On a national level, card spending was 16% higher than the same week in 2019.

The data broadly mirrors the spending patterns exhibited at the tail-end of prior lockdowns, with consumers looking to stock up on goods they couldn’t obtain through widespread store closures.

The widespread adoption of COVID-19 vaccines and broad state-level pledges not to enact future lockdowns could further boost consumer confidence in the weeks leading to Christmas.

However, the Reserve Bank of Australia has long warned the infectiousness of the Delta variant and high case numbers could make the recovery efforts of 2021 different to those of 2020.

The promise of renewed freedoms comes with the likelihood of government support payments being wound back, potentially shifting some spending patterns leading into the festive season.