Retail spending using electronic cards has risen for the second consecutive month, with people spending more on eating and drinking.
Statistics New Zealand says retail spending using debit, credit and charge cards rose a seasonally adjusted 1.5% to $4 billion in April, compared with the previous month.
Spending on fuel rose 0.1%, its slowest pace since August last year.
Excluding car and fuel sales, core retail sales rose 1.6% to $3.3 billion last month, led by food and alcohol, and spending on accommodation and eating out.
Goldman Sachs economist Philip Borkin says spending has risen because people are paying more for necessities.
ANZ Bank senior economist Sharon Zollner says reducing debt may now be optional for many households, rather than a necessity.
She says the Reserve Bank should be wary about assuming that the retail sector is down and out.
The survey covers about two-thirds of retail sales and does not include payments by cash or cheque.