Shoppers recovered their spending mojo in the three months ending December 31, delivering the largest quarterly boost to retail sales volumes in six years.
The widely-anticipated spending revival is another sign of improving consumer confidence, and follows a slowdown in the July to September period.
Statistics New Zealand said retail sales volumes in the December quarter bounced 2.1 per cent, compared to the September quarter, while the value of spending rose 1.7 per cent.
The last time volumes rose that strongly was the December 2006 quarter.
Business statistics manager Blair Cardno said 12 of the 15 retail industries recorded higher sales volumes, with fuel, motor vehicle and parts, and hardware, building and garden supplies retailing leading the pack.
Strong sales in rebuilding Canterbury pushed up hardware, building and garden supplies retail volumes by 4.3 per cent, and values by 4.2 per cent or $52 million.
When vehicle and fuel spending is excluded, the volume of core retail sales lifted 1.5 per cent.
The only significant decrease in volumes was in recreational goods retailing, down 2.9 per cent.
The only notable fall in sales values was in pharmaceutical and other store-based retailing, down 1.1 per cent or $13m.
The value of sales in the North Island rose 1.3 per cent in the quarter or $165m.
In Auckland the value of retail sales was up 1 per cent or $62m, and in Waikato it rose 2.7 per cent or $48m.
Wellington slipped off, 1.3 per cent or $24m.
The value of sales in the South Island rose 1.9 per cent or $82m, with Canterbury up 2 per cent or $49m.
Compared with the December quarter for 2011, the volume of core retail sales rose two per cent and the value rose 1.3 per cent, to $14.9 billion.
The recovery in retail for the quarter was widely-anticipated by economists.
Westpac senior economist Michael Gordon had predicted a two per cent bounce in the value of sales in the quarter, after a 0.6 per cent slip in the September quarter.
Meanwhile card spending figures for January released by Statistics NZ this week show shopping on eftpos and debit cards continued to rise, up a seasonally adjusted 0.3 per cent in the core retail industries on December.