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Westpac Card Data Shows Contracting Consumer Spend

The Westpac Card Tracker Index shows a continued “significant weakening” in spending.

The Index declined 7.9pts over the two weeks to May 6, unwinding a brief holiday-related bounce in the third week of April.

The index has held in the 133-136 range since the beginning of April, with the three months change dropping to -0.9 per cent in April, which Matthew Hassan, Senior Economist at Westpac, said is the weakest read since the Delta lockdown in 2021.

“The weakening signal comes as a variety of other measures are also starting to show a material slowdown in spending,” Hassan continues.

“Official ABS figures show retail sales volumes contracted 0.6 per cent in the March quarter, a second successive decline, with official card-based measures of household spending and tax-based measures of turnover also pointing to weakness in nominal spending, albeit to varying degrees in Q1 and with differences in timing.

“How this shows through in the official spending figures for the March quarter will be revealed when the Q1 national accounts estimates are released on June 7. Risks appear firmly to the downside.”

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