ASB economist Jane Turner expects retail spending to continue to gradually improve over the coming year, as Cantabrians rebuild their homes and a heating housing market encourages Aucklanders to loosen their grips on their wallets.
Latest figures from Paymark show the value spent on credit and debit cards rose for the fifth consecutive month in February, with spending now up 1.8% on a year ago to $3.8 billion.
Canterbury had the highest growth of all the regions, with spending up 4.6% in the year ending February, while spending on hardware and home decorating rose more than 10%.
Ms Turner said the general trend for retail spending appears to be improving with a gradual but steady pick up.
She said that is in line with improving consumer confidence, some of which appears to be related to increased housing market activity and there is a lot of turnover in housing related items such as furniture.
Ms Turner predicts there will be continued gradual growth in the coming year, particularly in Canterbury and Auckland.