The services sector is in good health, with the retail trade leading the way in December, according to an industry survey.
The BNZ-Business NZ Performance of Services Index was 57.5 points in December, up 1.1 points from the previous month. The survey includes the retail trade, wholesalers, property and business services, transport, storage and health services.
A figure above 50 indicates the sector is expanding, and below that it is contracting.
The December figure was the third-highest for the year and compares with the average of 55.8 points for the year.
The retail sector was the stand-out performer in December at 74.5 points.
While the sub-sector figures could move up and down month by month, there was "certainly a strong pulse coming through retailing", BNZ senior economist Craig Ebert said.
The figures are not seasonally adjusted and December was typically a huge month for Christmas spending, but the number was far higher than the previous two Decembers, which were both about 61 points.
Overall, the five main services sector sub-indexes expanded in December, continuing an eight-month run.
New orders remained in top spot at 62.4 points and have been above 60 points for eight of the last nine surveys. Anything above 60 is seen as a "rapid rate of knots" for expansion, Ebert said.
Activity and sales picked up 1.3 points to 59.8 points.
Employment dipped to 52.6 points after rising for three months.
Service sector activity was positive around the country, with the central region in the North Island leading the way at 61 points, the first time it has topped 60 points since early 2012.