NAB Economics Data Insights – week ending 26 March 2022

Data softer than previous week, although up from early March.

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NAB Chief Economist, Alan Oster commented

  • Our latest weekly consumer tracking data to 26 March shows something of a mixed bag for spending. The data were softer than the week prior, although up from early March. Consumption is however well below the strong reads we saw in February. While we still see underlying trends remaining mostly encouraging, retail data is now looking weaker than just a month ago. States are showing similar trends at present, with Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia all within a narrow three index point range.
  • So, what might be driving this weakness in retail and mixed performance elsewhere? Certainly, there are challenges in seasonally adjusting a weekly data series, so that may have exaggerated some of the February results. But it is more likely that February saw an abnormally strong bounce post-Omicron peak, and that now some “normality” is returning. Also, with inflationary pressures looming, consumers may be more cautious. We have already seen signs that higher petrol prices are boosting transport, while non-discretionary retail lags.
  • Overall, our seasonally adjusted consumption series stood at 133.0 for the week ending 26 March 2022, using a 2019 base. This was a decline from the week prior (138.7), although above levels seen a year ago (129.4). Retail stood at 132.7, lower than the week prior (136.5), and below the levels seen in February. Hospitality fell to 121.5, compared to 128.3 the week prior. The hospitality index is above year-ago levels (117.4).
  • Our total inward credits data rose last week but is now trending much closer to 2021 levels after a very strong start to the year. One bright spot to note is education. The pandemic decimated international education, but students have started to return this year. Education business inflows remain below 2019, but are getting closer to pre-pandemic levels.

For further details please see NAB Data Insights (week ending 26 March 2022)

*During these extraordinary times, NAB has taken the decision to publish aggregated customer data categorised by industry segment with the view to helping provide clarity around which segments of the economy have been most affected by the broader macroeconomic trends at play. NAB takes data privacy very seriously. All customer transaction data has been aggregated and no individual’s data is specifically identified or analysed as part of this process. The data used in this report will not be sold or made publicly available, but insights from the data will be shared with the Australian people.