Household Spending Growth Slows In March: Australia

Household spending was 2.1 per cent higher than a year ago but has slowed since the beginning of the year, according to figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Robert Ewing, ABS head of business statistics, said: “Household spending growth was lower in March compared to the annual growth of 3.2 per cent in January and 4.0 per cent in February. Cost of living pressures continue with households focusing on non-discretionary spending, while discretionary spending growth has stalled.”

Growth in spending on services slowed to 1.8 per cent in March, which is the lowest growth rate for this category since February 2021.

Household spending, through the year change, current price, calendar adjusted

Oct-23 (%)Nov-23 (%)Dec-23 (%)Jan-24 (%)Feb-24 (%)Mar-24 (%)

Transport contributed to the lower growth rate for services spending, with an annual rise of 6.5 per cent in March, compared to 12.9 per cent in February.

The earlier timing of Easter, mostly falling in March in 2024, but which entirely took place in April in 2023, also impacted the results.

“Households spent more on goods like food in the lead up to Easter and less on services like health over the long weekend,” Mr Ewing said.

Compared to the same time last year, household spending rose in all states and territories. The spending growth rates were lower than in February though in all states and territories.

The largest rises in spending were seen in South Australia, up 5.7 per cent, and Western Australia, up 4.4 per cent. The Northern Territory had the smallest annual growth of 0.3 per cent in March.

Household spending, current price, TTY % change, calendar adjusted, by state/territory

Jan-2024 (%)Feb-2024 (%)Mar-2024 (%)

/ABS Public Release. View in full here.