Stretched household budgets or not? Pete Wargent

Pete WargentAugust 18, 20150 min read
Another data series which doesn't really fit the narrative of tight or stretched household budgets, as trend new car sales moved to their highest ever level in July 2015. 
This follows on from recently compiled Reserve Bank data which shows that mortgage redraw buffers and offset account balances are also at their highest ever level as household enjoy low interest rates and cheaper repayments.
Of course, it often doesn't feel this way at the individual household level - interviews with the world's wealthiest people have shown that financial stress never entirely goes away whatever the true state of one's personal finances.
The Reserve Bank itself has mused:
"The continued concern about living cost pressures might arise because the standard of living that can be sustainably afforded by households’ incomes remains lower than many would like."
Certainly although wages growth is soft at +2.3 per cent, this has to date at least remained well in excess of the increase in the cost of living for employee households.
Record new motor sales 
In any event it was another monster month for new motor vehicle sales at a seasonaly adjusted 96,388 which saw trend sales reach an all-time record high in July 2015, having increased by 3.7 per cent over the past year. 
The result was all the remarkable given the weak data evident in the resources states, a slowing rate of population growth, as well as the fact that the Aussie dollar has depreciated sharply in recent times. 
Looking at the "original" data on a rolling annual basis we can see that more than 1.13 million new vehicle sales have been recorded over the past year, while the 588,619 units sold over the past six months is a record for any half year period in Australia's history.
It was another prodigious month for Sports Utitlity (SUV) sales at more than 34,000 seasonally adjusted from fewer than 30,000 one year ago (a +14 per cent year-on-yearincrease), the annualised number of SUV sales climbing inexorably to beyond 380,000.
State versus state
New South Wales has been recording a number of king-sized seasonally adjusted results in recent months, firing total new motor vehicle sales to their highest ever level in the Premier State. 
On a rolling annual basis new motor vehicle sales are rising in Queensland too, but are now looking somewhat peaky in Victoria after a fine run. 
Sales have declined moderately in South Australia over the past year, and fairly sharply in Western Australia as the mining construction boom comes undone. 
State trends
The trend year-on-year increase in sales was particular strong in each of the most populous states, those being New South Wales (+8.1 per cent), Victoria (+3.4 per cent) and Queensland (+6.6 per cent).
While somewhat immaterial at the national level, the surprise package is Tasmania with a trend +13 per cent year-on-year increase in units sold. 
The strength of the data in the three most largest states has more than offset the weakness in South Australia (-4.2 per cent) and the resources-impacted Western Australia (-11 per cent) and Northern Territory (-1.4 per cent).

PETE WARGENT is the co-founder of AllenWargent property buyers (London, Sydney) and a best-selling author and blogger.

His latest book is Four Green Houses and a Red Hotel.


Pete Wargent

Pete Wargent is the co-founder of, offering affordable homebuying assistance to all Australians, and a best-selling author and blogger.
Household Budgets
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