New data from spend tracking software Spendmapp shows Cleve district locals are spending more of their money outside the district than locally.
The Cleve District Council is the second in the Eastern Eyre region to adopt the software, which tracks EFTPOS transactions within the district to show where locals and visitors are spending their money.
Backdated data from the past twelve months shows locals are spending almost double outside the Cleve, Arno Bay and Darke Peak district as they are within it.
Locals spent $11.7 million within the district in the past year, and $22.96 million outside it.
Port Lincoln was the most popular spending alternative, with $5 million spent in the regional centre.
Almost $2 million was spent in Whyalla and about $1 million in Cowell.
Council tourism and community development officer Bess Winkley said she was advised by a mentor assisting her in interpreting the data that a large escape spend was typical for small towns.
"Sometimes there's not a broad range of goods and services available," she said.
Differentiating between spending that can and cannot be done within the Cleve district is a challenge, as the Spendmapp data is generalised so as not to identify the income of specific businesses.
Ms Winkley said it was important for local people to choose to spend local wherever possible to support the businesses in town.
"They're sponsoring our sports clubs, providing donations... it may be convenient if you're going down to Port Lincoln but we also can't forget about our local economy."
Miss Winkley said as tourism officer she was pleased to see a significant amount of spending within the district coming from visitors, with $7.4 million of the $19.1 million local spend coming from outside the district.
However she said she was researching initiatives the council could adopt to reduce escape spend figures, which would involve consultation with community members and business owners to identify key barriers to local spending.
She said a potential initiative was a sophisticated shop local incentive program called Why Leave Town Promotions, a smartphone app and gift card program using discounts and other financial incentives to promote local spending.
"That's something we're going to look into and hopefully implement," Ms Winkley said.
"Hopefully we can combat some of the escape spend and build up our local economy."