Australians have finally started to spend some of those savings they’ve been squirreling away since they went into lockdown and international borders closed.
The Commonwealth Bank’s Household Spending Intentions Index in December was at its highest level since the start of the pandemic, with Australians planning to spend money on transport, travel, retail and household services.
Households have saved an average of 17.2% of their income since the start of the pandemic, according to the national accounts which were released in December. In dollar terms that means about $260 billion has been saved since the start of the pandemic.
By comparison, two years earlier households were saving about 6.1%.
While not all Australians have kept their jobs during the pandemic, the savings have still been extraordinarily high with fewer opportunities for spending.
As state-based lockdowns ended, Australians started to get their wallets out a bit more with ABS figures for November showing retail sales hit a record $33.4 billion – up 5.8% on the same time the previous year.
Unfortunately, the arrival of the Omicron variant has put a dampener on that. The Commonwealth Bank estimates consumer spending dropped about 3% in January.