Spending 'is starting to pick up'

Aussies are becoming less hesitant to pick up their debit cards and start spending, new figures indicate.

Data from the Westpac-Melbourne Institute Index of Consumer Sentiment revealed a rise of 1.2 per cent this month after recording a 2.4 per cent decline the preceding month.

The figures showed an increase in spending on clothing, footwear, books and eating out.

Furniture, electronic goods and floor coverings also sold well, which was attributed in part to people in Queensland restocking their homes after the floods.

Bill Evans, senior economist with the bank, commented: "Over the month, households have been exposed to both positive and negative influences."

He suggested that the strong job prospects and security were helping stimulate spending, as was the decision of the Reserve Bank to maintain rates at 4.75 per cent.

Earlier this month, Treasurer Wayne Swan claimed employment levels in Australia is "the envy of the developed world", the AAP reported.

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