Figures from New Zealand's biggest eftpos company, Paymark, show Christmas spending was up on the same time in 2008.
There were 80 million transactions in December, worth $4.3 billion.
The value of transactions rose about 3.9% on that of the same month the year before.
However, when petrol purchases are removed, the figure drops to a 2.6% increase.
Jewellery shops, restaurants and beauty salons recorded strong growth, but sales at traditional Christmas performers such as hardware and camping outlets were lower than expected.