The volume of retail sales continues to wane.
An economist says they point to an overall contraction in the economy, which could spell the start of a recession.
Statistics New Zealand says the volume of seasonally adjusted retail sales slumped 1.2% in the March quarter - the largest decline since 1997.
UBS bank senior economist Robin Clements, says retail sales form a large component of Gross Domestic Product calculations and there would need to be significant gains elsewhere in the equation to offset this fall.
He says the figures indicate the start of a recession.
A recession is calculated as two consecutive quarters of contraction in the economy.