New figures from the payment processing firm Paymark show that shoppers remain cautious in the lead-up to Christmas.
Paymark, which processes threequarters of all electronic card transactions in this country, says it handled more than $3 billion worth of transactions in the first three weeks of December - 3.8% more than in the same period last year.
But the growth rate has slowed from the 4.6% experienced between October and November.
The company says it handled 57.7 million transactions during the period, 3.4% more than in the same period a year earlier.
Chief executive Simon Tong says the data reinforces the continuing trend of caution among shoppers.