Better-than-expected retail sales for May show the largest monthly increase in spending since November 2007.
The figures from Statistics New Zealand show spending increased by 0.8% or $41 million.
Core sales rose 1.6%, or $65 million, with a jump in spending on food, drink and clothing accounting for much of the increase and offsetting a major slide in vehicles sales.
Spending at supermarkets and grocery stores rose by 2.2%, and clothing and soft goods spending rose by 12.5%. Sales in vehicle-related industries fell by 1.8% or 25 million.
Overall, retail sales have been steadily increasing since 1995, but between April 2007 and January 2009 the rate slowed to 0.1% a month. Latest figures suggest that, since January, there has been a slight pick-up to 0.2% per month.