Hey, Big Spender! Aussies Splurge on Cars, Going out

Australians are opening their wallets for new cars and entertainment, with the two sectors recording the biggest lift in sales in the lead-up to Christmas.

In encouraging signs for the WA economy, the State’s spending is the strongest it has been for 21/2 years, up 0.9 per cent last month and 7.8 per cent annually.

Figures to be released today show there was stronger spending nationally last month, with an economy-wide boost of 0.4 per cent — the 35th consecutive month of sales growth, and above the decade average of 0.3 per cent. Last month spending on amusement and entertainment was up 1.2 per cent, and spending on cars and other vehicles up 1.7 per cent compared with the previous month.

But in a sign that the traditional retail sector is still struggling, spending at retail and clothing stores was down 0.4 per cent last month, delivering the weakest result in more than six years.

Commonwealth Bank chief economist Craig James said WA’s result was “encouraging” and came as spending in the east coast markets softened amid concerns about house prices.

“People are not going crazy, but certainly where they can see the bargains they are still buying,” he said. Mr James said the strong results from the Business Sales Indicator, which tracks the value of consumer sales across different sectors, were a sign consumers were responding to end-of-year discounts.

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The uptick in spending on amusement and entertainment, the fastest growth in six months, suggested people were still prepared to splurge on short holidays and special occasions, he said. “It’s all those little luxuries in life,” Mr James said.

The yearly figures contained in the spending tracker show all but two of the 19 industry sectors recorded gains, with amusement and entertainment up 15 per cent, utilities up 13 per cent and airlines up 12.7 per cent.

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