The CommSec State of the States report has unveiled South Australia as the surprising economic leader among Australia’s states and territories for the first time in the history of this quarterly survey.
The report, which analyses the economic performance of different regions across the country, provides valuable insights into the economic momentum and growth rates of Australia’s diverse regions.
Overall, the economic performances of Australian states and territories continue to be bolstered by robust job markets and a substantial increase in population, even as interest rates are on the rise.
However, these economies have faced a slowdown in response to higher borrowing costs and inflationary pressures, with their future trajectories closely tied to the course of inflation amidst rising interest rates.
South Australia clinched the top spot in this quarter’s rankings, surpassing its counterparts for the first time in 14 years of the report’s existence.
South Australia excelled in four out of the eight key economic indicators: relative economic growth, relative unemployment, construction work done, and dwelling starts.
Victoria and New South Wales shared the second position in the rankings, followed by Western Australia in fourth place, and Tasmania in fifth.
The Australian Capital Territory secured the sixth position, while Queensland and the Northern Territory landed in seventh and eighth places, respectively.
When measuring annual growth rates across the eight key indicators, Western Australia emerged as the leader, followed closely by Queensland, Victoria, and New South Wales.
South Australia came in fifth, with the Northern Territory, the ACT, and Tasmania occupying the remaining spots.
Western Australia demonstrated its dominance by leading in annual growth rates across three of the eight indicators, while the Northern Territory led in two indicators. Queensland, South Australia, and the ACT each led in one of the indicators.
The analysis of this quarter’s results revealed that South Australia’s ascent to the top position was fueled by significant progress in construction-related sectors and overall economic growth. Looking forward, trends in job markets, consumer spending, and housing will continue to be crucial, with Queensland, New South Wales, and Western Australia showing promising economic momentum.
The methodology employed in this report assessed the performance of each state and territory by comparing their economic indicators to decade averages.
This approach allowed for a comprehensive understanding of how each economy was performing relative to what would be considered ‘normal’ in their specific context.
As Australia’s economic landscape continues to evolve, the CommSec State of the States report remains a valuable tool for policymakers, investors, and the public, shedding light on the relative strengths and weaknesses of different regions across the country. With South Australia taking the lead in this quarter’s report, the economic competition among Australia’s states and territories is more dynamic than ever.
Brad Banducci quits as Woolworths Australia CEO after TV blow-up
Woolworths CEO Brad Banducci has revealed his decision to step down from his position, with Amanda Bardwell, head of loyalty and e-commerce, slated to succeed him as chief executive in September.
Bardwell’s appointment marks a historic moment as she becomes the first woman to lead the company in its nearly 100-year history.
Banducci’s departure comes at a critical juncture for Woolworths and its competitor, Coles, as they brace for an upcoming Senate inquiry led by the Greens.
The inquiry, scheduled for next month, is expected to scrutinise higher grocery costs, which Canberra has blamed for inflating supermarket profit margins at the expense of consumers.
This is what happened when Four Corners asked Woolworths CEO Brad Banducci about the lack of competition in the Australian grocery market.
— ABC News (@abcnews) February 19, 2024
In addition to the Senate inquiry, Labor has urged the competition regulator to investigate the supermarkets, with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese suggesting potential abuse of market power by the retailers.
Woolworths chairman Scott Perkins clarified that Banducci’s succession timeline was not accelerated in response to the scrutiny faced by the supermarket industry.
Perkins stated that interviews with potential candidates for the CEO position had been ongoing since the latter half of the previous year.
“There has been an ongoing dialogue with Brad,” Perkins told media. “There was no change to the timetable, no expedition at all.”
Importance of authenticity
Banducci acknowledged that he had considered delaying his departure but ultimately decided against it, citing the importance of authenticity. Despite the challenges facing the industry, he expressed confidence in Bardwell’s ability to lead Woolworths into the future.
Analysts reacted to the news with a mix of surprise and caution.
In financial terms, Woolworths’ food retail division reported a 5.2 percent increase in sales, or 6.6 percent excluding tobacco.
However, the company noted a moderation in prices, with average increases of 1.3 percent in the last three months of 2023.
Despite this, margins continued to improve, and earnings for the division rose by 8.2 percent.
Walmart reports holiday sales as shoppers seek better value
Walmart disclosed its fourth-quarter earnings showcasing a surge in sales during the holiday season, offering early insights into consumer spending trends amid a crucial period.
Despite a challenging economic climate, Walmart reported a 4 percent increase in comparable store sales for the three months ending in late January compared to the previous year.
The number of transactions also saw a notable uptick, rising by 4.3 percent. However, there was a slight decline of 0.3 percent in the average ticket price, indicating a tendency among shoppers to spend marginally less during their shopping trips.
The retail behemoth witnessed a significant boost in its online sales, with a 17 percent increase in the U.S. market and a remarkable 23 percent surge globally, surpassing the $100 billion mark. Walmart’s Chief Financial Officer, John David Rainey, attributed this growth partly to cost-saving measures in their e-commerce operations and the rising adoption of Walmart’s delivery services.
While the e-commerce sector saw substantial gains, there was a noted decrease in discretionary purchases such as electronics, as consumers prioritized essential items amidst economic uncertainties.
Walmart’s emphasis on value and affordability played a pivotal role in driving sales, particularly in its grocery segment.
The company’s CEO, Doug McMillon, highlighted Walmart’s commitment to offering competitive prices, leveraging its substantial grocery business.
In a strategic move to enhance its offerings, Walmart announced the acquisition of television manufacturer Vizio in a deal worth $2.3 billion, further expanding its Walmart Connect advertising and media business.
Millions of Australians are struggling with credit card repayments
Recent research has revealed a concerning trend: a significant number of Australians are falling behind on their credit card repayments, highlighting the financial strain faced by many households.
According to Finder’s Credit Card Report 2024, approximately 13% of Australian credit card holders, equivalent to nearly 1.8 million individuals, have missed at least one repayment in the past three months.
Of this group, 8% have fallen behind by 30 days, while 4% have missed payments by 60 days.
Alarmingly, 2% of cardholders have delayed repayments by more than 60 days.
Amy Bradney-George, a credit card expert at Finder, expressed concern over the prevalent misuse of credit cards, attributing it partly to the escalating cost of living.
Bradney-George warned that missing a credit card payment often incurs late fees and interest charges, exacerbating financial burdens for individuals.
Bradney-George emphasised the detrimental impact of late payments on credit scores.
She highlighted that a missed payment can be recorded on a credit file within just 14 days, potentially affecting an individual’s ability to secure loans or new credit cards in the future.
With details of late payments lingering on credit reports for up to two years, the consequences could be long-lasting.
Currently, there are over 13 million credit cards in circulation across Australia, accumulating a national debt of $18.1 billion subject to interest charges.
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