5206.0 - Australian National Accounts: National Income, Expenditure and Product, Mar 2020 Quality Declaration 
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 03/06/2020   
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Household consumption behaviour in response to COVID-19

Household consumption decreased 1.1% in the March quarter and 0.2% through the year. These falls were last observed during the global financial crisis.

Figure 1: Household consumption, volume measures, seasonally adjusted
Figure 1 shows household consumption, volume measures, seasonally adjusted

The decrease in household spending was driven by a 2.4% fall in services consumption for the March quarter, partly offset by an increase in goods consumption of 1.0%.

Figure 2: Goods and services consumption, volume measures, seasonally adjusted
Figure 2 shows Goods and services consumption, volume measures, seasonally adjusted


Changes in household spending behaviour

There were impacts on household consumption expenditure from both the bushfires and COVID-19. Early in the March quarter, bushfires and associated smoke haze led to disruptions to domestic travel and reduced retail foot traffic. This was followed by escalating concerns about the spread of COVID-19 that led to restrictions on overseas travel, bans on indoor and outdoor gatherings and domestic travel, increased work and leisure from home, and limits on business trading.


Household consumption of services

There were significant impacts on household spending on services due to COVID-19 social distancing measures.

  • Travel disruptions, reduced foot traffic and bushfires drove a large fall in hotels, cafes and restaurants, with falls across both catering services and accommodation services categories.
  • Reduced demand for travel and stay-at-home measures led to a decrease in transport services, particularly air passenger services.
  • Social distancing measures and the deferral of elective medical procedures resulted in a reduced demand for health services.
  • Restrictions on indoor and outdoor gatherings had a major impact on recreational and cultural services, particularly on gambling activity, sporting services and cinema admissions.

Figure 3: Individual services consumption through the year, volume measures: original
Figure 3 shows Individual services consumption through the year, volume measures: original

Household consumption of goods

Household expenditure on goods rose as people prepared for the possibility of an extended period at home.
  • Food spending increased significantly at both supermarkets and specialised food retailers, particularly in non-perishable food categories.
  • Households stocked up on pharmaceutical supplies, with increased spending on medicines, medical aids and therapeutic appliances.
  • Furnishings and household equipment purchases increased, led by tools and appliances as well as cleaning products.
  • Household purchases of recreation and culture goods increased with demand for audio-visual equipment, laptops and computers, as well as sporting equipment.

Figure 4: Individual goods consumption through the year, volume measures: original
Figure 4 shows Individual goods consumption through the year, volume measures: original