Electronic payment processing firm Paymark says spending in New Zealand's regional centres continues to outpace that in bigger cities.
The company, which processes about three-quarters of the country's electronic transactions in the retail market, handled $3.7 billion worth of sales in March - an increase of almost 4.8% on the same month a year earlier.
The number of transactions climbed 7.1% to almost $75 million.
Paymark chief executive Simon Tong says the data continues to show a patchy recovery for the retail sector.
Smaller regions outpaced the larger ones, Mr Tong said. Gisborne and South Canterbury had growth above 10%, while Auckland, Wellington and Canterbury were below the national average at about 4%.
Overall, transactions for footwear rose 16%, and for takeaway food 10%, but spending on fresh produce fell 2% and clothing fell 1%.
The volume of sales processed over the Easter weekend rose by 5.4%.