Figures released by an electronic transaction processing company shows festive spending for December increased 3.9% on the same period a year ago.
According to Paymark, spending was slower than November but ahead of the 2.8% growth rate for the first 10 months of the year.
The company's head of sales and marketing, Paul Whiston, says people dined out more during the holiday season, increasing their spend on takeaways by 24% and at restaurants and cafes by 7%.
Retailers in South Canterbury, Gisborne and Waikato had the highest year-to-year increases and were all up by 5-6%.
On the West Coast, spending fell by 2%.