Kiwis are slowly loosening the grip on their wallets, spending particularly on cars, speciality food and taxis.
The latest figures from payments provider Paymark showing an increase in overall spending of 0.9 per cent in February over the previous month.
It is the fifth consecutive monthly gain and the largest five-month rise since June 2007.
In terms of annual growth, there has been a 1.8 per cent increase in the total value of transactions from February last year to this year.
Paymark head of sales and marketing Paul Whiston said the February annual figure was lower than the annual growth rates in recent months, however 2012 had an extra 29th day which altered the comparison.
Whiston also noted the sales picture wasn't rosy for all retailers.
"We know there are still sectors and regions that are finding things tough, and experiencing limited growth, if any. Yet this is certainly an encouraging trend we hope will continue," Whiston said.
New and used car retailers led the upsurge in the latest figures, with sales up a whopping 15.4 per cent. This was followed closely by specialist food retailing (15.3 per cent) and taxi services (13 per cent).
"Valentines Day saw a slight lift in spending on flowers and gifts, however the overall effect was not enough to offset the shorter 28-day month," Whiston said.
Both sectors saw a slight decline year-on-year, down 1.1 and 0.3 per cent respectively.
The hardware and home decorating sector once again saw strong growth, up 10.9 per cent.
Canterbury had the highest regional spending growth, up 4.6 per cent, followed by Otago (4 per cent) and South Canterbury (3.4 per cent).
"Canterbury continues its run at the top end of the growth board, and coupled with the ongoing increases in spending on hardware and home decorating it looks to be a sure sign that the rebuild is in full swing," Whiston said.
Almost all regions had some growth in February. The exception was Gisborne, which remained static.
Nationwide, the number of card transactions was 1.8 per cent higher than a year ago with credit card usage up 3 per cent and debit card usage up 1.5 per cent.
- © Fairfax NZ News