Retail spending remains modest according to electronic payment company Paymark, which is expecting a last-minute surge before Christmas.
The value of spending through the Paymark network was $3.48 billion in November - up 1.2% on the same month last year.
The total number of transactions rose 5%, to 71.4 million.
Paymark chief executive Simon Tong says this year has been one of the toughest since the company began processing payments in 1989.
However there are some encouraging signs in the leadup to Christmas, he says, with a small move away from spending on basics and more of an increase in discretionary spending.
Mr Tong says smaller regional centres like Gisborne, Otago and Bay of Plenty experienced the fastest growth in spending, while Auckland-Northland and Wellington were more subdued.
Paymark processes about three quarters of the country's credit, debit and online transactions.