Discretionary spending lower compared to last year

Media Release

Household spending on discretionary goods and services was 0.6 per cent lower compared to May last year, according to figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Robert Ewing, ABS head of business indicators, said: “Driving the fall in discretionary spending over the year was 4.8 per cent less spending on Furnishings and household equipment, and 3.4 per cent less on Clothing and footwear.

“While overall household spending rose 3.3 per cent in May compared to the same time last year, it was the lowest growth rate since July 2021. This comes as households respond to cost-of-living pressures.”

The overall increase in household spending was driven by Hotels, cafes and restaurants (+7.8 per cent) and Transport (+7.7 per cent). These categories contributed to the 7.2 per cent rise in spending on services.

Goods spending saw a 0.9 per cent fall, which is the largest decline since July 2021. Spending on Food was the only positive contributor, rising 5.8 per cent, with the May Monthly Consumer Price Index Indicator showing a 7.9 per cent rise in food prices.

Spending growth slows in all states and territories

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

Western Australia recorded the largest increase in spending (+4.7 per cent), led by rises for Transport (+13.9 per cent) and Health (+12.2 per cent).

Rises in spending growth were smaller in all states and territories this month compared to last month. Northern Territory had the smallest rise in through-the-year spending with 0.8 per cent, dropping from 1.6 per cent in April.

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. May 2023 compared to May 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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