State lockdowns not phasing Aussie spenders, find CBA and Citi

young couple online shopping during lockdown

Fresh stats have shown that state lockdowns aren’t stopping Aussie shoppers from spending on their debit or credit cards

According to CommBank’s household credit and debit card spending update, card spending levels over the week ending on 2 July 2021 was a solid 13.9% above the week before and 16.5% higher than the same week in 2019 (pre-pandemic). 

Because card spending was so heavily impacted in 2020 as a result of the pandemic, CommBank compared 2021 to 2019 in this report, as 2019 is a reflection of a more ‘normal’ spending year.

Interestingly, this increase in spending happened despite NSW, QLD, NT and WA all entering a form of lockdown at the end of June. 

In fact, Citi Australia’s head of cards and loans, Choong Yu Lum revealed that in the final week of June, Australia saw the biggest spend of the month despite lockdowns in various states. 

“Last year, lockdown anxieties triggered a drop in consumer spending. However, the data for June indicated consumers are no longer spooked by lockdowns, with heightened government restrictions appearing to bear no impact on volumes of monthly spend,” he said. 

As to be expected, CommBank found that for credit and debit card users in-store spending slowed by 5.8% when compared to the same period in 2019. Meanwhile online spending lifted by a significant 38.6%. 

What are Aussie credit and debit card spenders purchasing during lockdown? 

Like last month, credit card spending was up over June and according to Citi, the top five spending categories have remained unchanged. 

Here’s what percentage of the spend each category had: 

  • Supermarkets: 9.48% 
  • Household good retailing: 7.92% 
  • Business Services: 6.90%
  • Insurance: 6.31% 
  • Health/Medical: 5.61%

Meanwhile, restaurants (down 9% from May) and hotels, resorts and spas (only up 2% from May) are continuing to feel the brunt of COVID lockdowns. 

“Next month, we will be looking closely at how the government’s response to COVID outbreaks impacts household spend. We anticipate that in line with strengthening consumer confidence, impending lockdowns will no longer inhibit spend like they did in 2020,” Mr Lum said. 

Tips to spending responsibly during lockdown 

1. Buy what you need, not what you want: We know it can be tempting to have ‘treat yourself’ moments during lockdown but this can be risky when it comes to racking up credit card debt or spending your precious savings. Make sure you’re only buying things that you need, like groceries or home office supplies, and limit how often you ‘treat yourself’ with things like clothing or takeaway. 

2. Don’t shop because you’re bored: Finding activities during lockdown can sometimes be tough, but don’t fall into the trap of turning to online shopping purely because you’re bored. While this might be something you do on the odd occasion, if it becomes a habit your finances won’t thank you for it later. 

3. Look out for online sales: If you really need to do some online shopping, keep a keen eye out for sales. Plenty of retailers are offering some pretty hot deals on things like electronics, clothing and more. So if you’re going to spend, why not snag a bargain? 

4. Spend at sites you know and trust: The last thing you want to deal with during lockdown is an online scam, so ensure you are only entering your credit or debit card details at the checkout of a site you know and trust. If a website looks dodgy and you’re not sure, best to avoid it and look elsewhere.  

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