Commonwealth Bank of Australia has launched a new monthly CommBank Household Spending Intentions (HSI) Index, providing insights into Australian consumer spending intentions.

The CommBank HSI Index shows a strong recovery in consumer spending in October, rising 6.6% from September and up 4.4% from the same period last year as states and territories lifted lockdown restrictions. This was led by sharp increases in spending on travel, transport, and entertainment.

“We are incredibly proud to launch one of the most reliable leading indicators of Australian household consumption, one that’s backed by Commonwealth Bank’s world-class data and insights,” CommBank group executive of institutional banking and markets, Andrew Hinchliff said.

“This powerful new tool will help businesses, industry and government better track our economy and understand developments in Australian household consumption.”

CommBank chief economist, Stephen Halmarick added, “Our new CommBank HSI Index is a major improvement on existing consumer sentiment trackers, and brings timely and unparalleled insights to customers, media and policymakers. In time, we see this index becoming an important economic indicator for Australian financial markets.

“After months of restrictions, Australians are finally free to spend again. The strong index reading for October underscores pent-up demand across the economy, particularly for lockdown-affected sectors. The data is showing that while lockdowns stymied some activity, the underlying economy remains strong and household spending intentions support a robust recovery.”

The household services index rose 24% in October from September and was up 5.5% on the year. The increase was driven by both actual spending and Google searches for home and garden services and home improvement services.

Home buying spending intentions index slipped 1.4% from September but was up 12.4% from year-ago levels. While home loan applications rose in October, Google searches for property inspections and appraisals declined.

“Home buying spending intentions remain up on an annual basis and this sector continues to show strong demand among consumers for housing,” Halmarick said.

The CommBank HSI Index combines analysis of the bank’s spending data covering 2.5 million Australian households and approximately 40% of payments transactions, and loan application information, coupled with Google Trends publicly available search activity.