Official figures show spending using debit, credit and charge cards decreased a seasonally-adjusted 0.4 percent in August compared with the previous month.
Spending on accommodation, eating out, and groceries and alcohol all fell.
Economists attributed the decline to lower tourism spending as numbers eased back to more normal levels following strong growth in June and July.
Lower fuel prices also meant motorists spent less at the pumps.
Statistics New Zealand said the cost of petrol last month was about 20 cents less per litre than in August last year.
Core retail spending, which strips out cars and fuel, declined 0.6 percent.
Compared to August last year, sales fell 3.7 percent.
Electronic card spending makes up about two thirds of all retail sales.