(Image: AAP/Private Media)

The advice for anyone saving money is to avoid eating out. Australia has been consuming a lot of home-cooked meals this year. So you’d expect our total spend on food and drink to have fallen.

Instead, it’s the opposite. For every dollar we’ve saved at cafes and restaurants and bars, we’ve spent $1.60 at grocery stores and bottle shops. Food spending has risen by a bit over a billion dollars and alcohol spending by a few hundred million.

What’s going on?

One possibility is we are stress-eating our way through 2020 and will all emerge fat.

A better explanation is that cafes and restaurants weren’t putting all their sales through the till, so we discover a lot of “missing” spending when that spending shifts to supermarkets.

But perhaps the most important possibility to hold in mind is that when incomes increase people spend more on everything. Australia’s least well-off families have seen a big increase in incomes thanks to the doubling of JobSeeker. That’s putting more and better food on tables in a lot of homes.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey