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Recovery consolidates as business sales rise steadily

The recovery in economy-wide spending appears to have consolidated as business sales remain positive, according to the latest Commonwealth Bank Business Sales Indicator (BSI).

The BSI, which tracks economy-wide spending through credit and debit transactions at Commonwealth Bank point-of-sale terminals, increased by 0.8 percent in March.

This positive result followed a 0.9 per cent gain in February and 1.0 per cent gains in both January and December. According to the BSI, economy-wide spending has seen gains eight straight months now.

According to Commonwealth Bank executive general manager of local business banking Matt Comyn, the continued positive uplift in spending showed consumers are happy to spend. However, he said the figures demonstrate they’re allocating their money in different ways.

“The fact we are seeing sectors like amusement and entertainment posting continued positive gains shows that the experience is becoming more important,” Comyn said.

“It’s a similar story in mail order and telephone order providers, where ongoing positive performance speaks to the smarter shopper who is seeking out a bargain,” he added.

The BSI revealed the strongest increase in sales occurred in the wholesale distributors and manufacturers sector (up 1.8 percent), followed by the amusement and entertainment sector (up 1.4 percent).

Spending was weakest in hotels and motels (down by 0.3 percent), which saw a decline for the ninth-straight month in March.

Another positive uncovered by the latest BSI is that none of the states and territories recorded weaker sales in March, with the strongest sales result coming from South Australia (up 1.5 percent).

CommSec’s chief economist and BSI author Craig James said although consumers still face a number of economic hurdles, these figures pointed to a brighter outlook for business sales.

“Thereʼs little question we are in a far more positive place than we have been for some time,” he said.

“There are, however, a number of economic announcements on the horizon that have the ability to further sway the consumer mood, including the next Reserve Bank meeting and Federal Budget in May, so the April and May figures will be particularly telling,” he added.