Economists say the discrepancy between increasing consumer confidence and a recent dip in actual spending shows consumers are still cautious about the economic recovery.
Electronic card transactions in core retail industries, which excludes fuel and cars, fell 0.4% in October, Statistics New Zealand says, as people spent less on food and alcohol.
Consumer confidence has reached record highs in recent months as economy recovers from recession.
However, BNZ Capital senior economist Craig Ebert says consumers don't appear to be "putting their money where their mouth is."
He says they may be holding back in anticipation of Christmas spending.
Total transactions rose a seasonally-adjusted 0.2% compared with September, largely due to higher fuel and food costs.
ASB chief economist Nick Tuffley says although retail spending has picked up in the last three months, the Reserve Bank is unlikely to be worried about it just yet.