Zip Co's Spending Index from January to March 2021 indicates domestic spending on leisure and holiday activities skyrocketed when compared to the same period last year as international borders remained closed.

The buy now, pay later platform's spending data is based on transactions from its 1.5 million customers and 300,000 Pocketbook users. 

Zip's chief operating officer Peter Gray said while the local tourism industry is still missing the international dollar, the data shows Aussies are out there "driving, diving and jumping in to support them". 

“Zip’s data shows that while people couldn’t get overseas this summer, it hasn’t stopped them getting out of the house," he said. 

"Caravan dealers are selling over double from this time last year and scuba-diving spend is almost four times what it was." 

Takeaway spending is also up 18% on this time last year, despite sporadic lockdowns across a few states through the quarter.

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      Commonwealth Bank's latest household spending intentions report also shows improvement across five of its seven categories: home buying, travel, entertainment, education, and motor vehicles.

      Health and fitness spending was flat, and retail spending intentions were lower, but CommBank put this down to the sharp spike last year as people bought home gym equipment and hoarded groceries and toilet paper. 

      “The travel sector was among the hardest hit by the onset of the COVID pandemic, with border closures and a country-wide lockdown stifling nearly all travel-related activity,” CommBank chief economist Stephen Halmarick said.

      “This month’s data, while distorted by base-effects, still demonstrates how far the sector has recovered since last year.”

      As borders closed, Australians became more insular in their spending, seen in the uptick in home building and renovations throughout 2020.

      Zip director of corporate affairs Matthew Abbott says this could change with the Trans-Tasman bubble opening.

      "Aussies are itching to travel overseas so we’re likely to see an increase in spending across accommodation and air travel, rentals like Airbnbs, now that the trans-Tasman bubble is open," he said.

      "Spending in domestic outdoor holiday activities will stabilise when international borders fully reopen, as some Aussies remain cautious."

      Private investigator spending up, aged care spending down

      The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) also reported an uptick in new car sales throughout the first quarter of 2021, albeit compared to a very low base at the start of 2020.

      Zip's 'Detective and Investigator Services' spending category was also up 109% in the first quarter of 2021. 

      Spending on aged care was also down nearly 60%, which Zip puts down to the fallout of the Aged Care Royal Commission, as well as COVID affecting those facilities. 

      Despite the slow vaccine rollout, Australia is performing strongly in terms of COVID cases and deaths, and New Zealand recently welcomed its first Australian arrivals in more than a year.

      Photo by Calvin Shelwell on Unsplash