A measure of activity in the services sector recorded a mild improvement in December compared to November, but is still significantly down on the same month the previous year.
The Bank of New Zealand - Business New Zealand performance of services index inched up 0.7 points from the November reading.
However it was almost six points lower than in December 2007, at 48 points, an indication the sector is contracting slightly.
Business New Zealand chief executive Phil O'Reilly said service sector industries like retail and hospitality would normally be at their strongest in December.
He said while there may be an improvement in the sector's activity due to lower fuel prices and a lower dollar, there is no indication in the December figures that the pick-up will be marked.
Mr O'Reilly said he would be surprised if there was an improvement in the next few months.