Further data on consumer spending suggests retailers are right to remain cautious about a likely pickup.
The government statistician says electronic card spending in September fell a seasonally adjusted 0.8%, more than reversing August's 0.5% gain.
Spending in all six measured categories fell in September.
The largest fall was in durables, such as furniture and large appliances, which dropped by $37 million, or 3.4%, following a $35 million increase in August.
Core retail spending, which excludes motor vehicles, was down 1% after a 1.1% rise in August.
ASB chief economist Nick Tuffley says the decline was a surprise but it is only one month's data.
Transactions in September totalled $108 million and they were worth $5.5 billion.
A survey of business confidence published on Tuesday found retailers are optimistic about the future but they're not acting as if they are.