Discretionary spending growth slowed in February

Media Release

Household spending rose 11.8 per cent in February compared to the same time last year, according to figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). 

Robert Ewing, ABS head of business indicators, said that this represented slower growth in household spending, as through-the-year spending fell to its lowest rate since March 2022.

“Spending on discretionary goods and services rose 5.8 per cent, the smallest through-the-year percentage growth since January last year, as households continued to adjust to cost of living pressures.

“Non-discretionary spending recorded a larger rise of 17.5 per cent, as households spent more on Transport and Food,” Mr Ewing said.

The overall increase in household spending was driven by Hotels, cafes and restaurants (+25.9 per cent) and Transport (+25.7 per cent).

Spending on Food rose 12.8 per cent, the highest through-the-year percentage rise since March 2020, partly reflecting higher grocery prices.

State and territory results

Household spending increased in all states and territories in February 2023 compared to February 2022.

The ACT recorded the largest increase in spending (+15.0 per cent), with large growth in Transport (+24.2 per cent) and Hotels, cafes and restaurants (+22.5 per cent).

The through-the-year rises were lower in all states and territories this month compared with January, except in Western Australia. Victoria had the largest slow-down in through-the-year spending, with growth dropping from 19.7 per cent in January to 11.1 per cent in February.

Media notes

  • The indicator is produced using aggregated and de-identified card and bank transactions from banking and financial institutions.
  • The indicator includes nine of the 13 key divisions classified, according to the Classification of Individual Consumption by Purpose (COICOP).
  • All modes of transport are classified as non-discretionary, including bus, train and air fares, and the purchase and operation of motor vehicles.
  • The indicator is produced in current price original and current price calendar adjusted terms only.
  • Until the indicator is seasonally adjusted, it is advised to focus on through-the-year comparisons (e.g. January 2023 compared to January 2022). 
  • Significant events such as COVID-19 can lead to very strong through-the-year rises. Care should be given when comparing periods with these events.
  • Care should be given when comparing Household Spending Indicator estimates with other ABS products. See the Methodology page for further information.
  • When reporting ABS data you must attribute the Australian Bureau of Statistics (or the ABS) as the source.
  • For media requests and interviews, contact the ABS Media Team via media@abs.gov.au (8.30am-5pm Mon-Fri).
  • Subscribe to our media release notification service to get notified of ABS media releases or publications upon their release.
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