Fresh insights have emerged from two significant reports. The first came from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), which unveiled April's Household Spending Indicator (HSI). This vital measure represents nearly two-thirds of total household expenditure.

Justin Fabo of Antipodean Macro provided charts showing the ABS HSI, indicating that nominal spending growth remained sluggish in April. More worryingly, the spending numbers in discretionary sectors, which are often seen as indicative of consumer confidence, appeared particularly feeble.

It’s worth noting that these charts measure spending in nominal terms. Adjusting for population and inflation would show an even steeper decline in real per capita spending, painting a more concerning picture.

Meantime, Westpac released its own data on consumer activity via the Card Tracker Index. This index tracks the vast volume of daily credit and debit card transactions processed by the bank. Recent findings are not encouraging.

According to the latest figures, the Westpac Card Tracker Index dipped by 2.2 points in the final two weeks of May, landing at 132.7 as of the week ending June 1. The downward trend has been persistent, with the average reading for the past eight weeks falling by approximately 0.5 points compared to the preceding eight weeks.

The quarterly growth pulse recorded a conspicuous negative rate of -1.1%, indicating substantial contraction in economic activity when adjusted for inflation.

When looking at the state-level breakdown, a uniformly broad decline is evident, though Western Australia shows somewhat milder quarterly decreases. Despite this slight regional resilience, the overall story remains grim.

The detailed assessment of HSI and Card Tracker Index data suggests that real per capita household consumption, as captured in the national accounts, continues to plummet.

The narrative is clear—Australian households are navigating through an intractable recession without a foreseeable short-term respite.