Consumers continued spending in May despite cost-of-living challenges

Consumer spending for May remained upbeat in the face of inflationary pressures and rising interest rates, with sales increasing 7.8% compared to May last year according to Mastercard SpendingPulse™, which measures in-store and online retail sales across all forms of payment.

All categories of retail recorded year on year sales growth, apart from Apparel which declined 0.2%. Fuel and Convenience recorded the largest increase in sales (up 7.4%), followed by Electronics (up 5.6%), Home Furnishings (up 4.4%), Groceries (up 4.1%), Lodging (up 3.5%) and Jewellery (up 1.6%).

Australian Retailers Association CEO Paul Zahra said whilst it’s pleasing to see retail sales continue their positive trajectory across most categories, we are entering a challenging economic environment.

“A generation of homeowners are experiencing their first interest rate hikes, while the cost of food and essentials are going up which is impacting family budgets. However, we’re yet to see these cost pressures impact retail spending, which is a positive indicator that Australians in the short term will be able to withstand the current inflationary challenges,” Mr Zahra said.

“Household savings remain above pre-pandemic levels which is cushioning the blow from the rising prices we’re seeing across the economy. Whilst discretionary purchases are likely to be impacted as the cost-of- living challenges continue, we remain optimistic that overall consumer spending will remain reasonably upbeat for most of the year.

“Right now, retailers are experiencing one of their busiest months of the year with the mid-year sales in full swing, which the ARA forecast will result in an $8.8 billion spending boost as consumers snap up bargains and retailers clear out their excess stock. Despite the current positive trajectory of retail sales, we also acknowledge that many businesses are confronting some record cost pressures which is impacting their performance.”


Mastercard SpendingPulse May 2022


  May 2022 vs May 2021

(Year on Year)

Apparel -0.2%
Electronics +5.6%
Fuel and Convenience +7.4%
Groceries +4.1%
Home Furnishings +4.4%
Jewellery +1.6%
Lodging +3.5%


Mastercard SpendingPulse™ reports on national retail sales across all payment types in select markets around the world. The findings are based on aggregate sales activity in the Mastercard payments network, coupled with survey-based estimates for certain other payment forms, such as cash and check. As such, SpendingPulse™ insights do not in any way contain, reflect or relate to actual Mastercard operational or financial performance, or specific payment-card-issuer data.


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Dominic Cuschieri

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About us: The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) is the oldest, largest and most diverse national retail body, representing a $360bn sector which employs 1.3 million Australians and is the largest private sector employer in the country. As Australia’s peak retail body, representing more than 100,000 retail shop fronts and online stores, the ARA informs, advocates, educates, protects and unifies our independent, national and international retail community. To learn more about ARA’s exclusive member benefits and more, visit



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