Bay of Plenty shoppers spent more than $324 million in January to post the biggest increase in spending in the country for the second month in a row.
Paymark figures show spending increased by 8.9 per cent compared to a year before. The region also topped the country for spending the previous month, with more than $368 million ringing through retailers' tills in December.
Tauranga Budget Advisory Service manager Diane Bruin said January and February were traditionally busy months and the service was fully booked with people seeking help after overspending during the festive season.
Read more: Second big win for Tauranga Lotto shop
"It's because the kids are going back to school and parents are trying to work out how to pay off debt."
Mrs Bruin said her biggest concern was people getting short-term loans online and not managing their credit card spending.
Despite this, the increase in spending was generally positive and probably reflected population growth, she said.
Papamoa Plaza manager David Hill echoed this, stating the increase was more likely a reflection of the increased population and visitors rather than people spending more.
Mr Hill said more locals were taking 'staycations' (staying at home during their holidays) and having friends and family stay with them.
"There's a heck of a lot more people about," he said.
Events like Dinner in the Domain and Little Big Markets helped as well as the rapid increase in people moving to the area.
"It's impacting on the retailers as well in a positive sense. Foot traffic is up almost 10 per cent, same with sales and also the number of new employees," Mr Hill said.
"Generally February and November are the 'eek' months of the year. February rates are due and everyone gets their Visa bills and go 'eek'. But we haven't noticed it this year."
Mr Hill said the business over summer has boosted retailer confidence as the mall embarks on a $20 million upgrade.
"It's very gratifying from our point of view ... the uptake from the locals and new locals has been really rewarding."
Mount Mainstreet manager Peter Melgren said retailers had been busy over January with some telling him of extraordinary trading days.
Read more: Holi Festival expected to trump Diwali
"This trend began before Christmas and talking to retailers [lately] seems to be carrying through to February and it certainly isn't restricted to the Mount," Mr Melgren said.
Retailers have referred to cashed up Aucklanders relocating, events and activities drawing people to town, and the level of building activity, Mr Melgren said.
Downtown Tauranga manager Sally Cooke said feedback from retailers was that foot traffic was up in the past two months compared to the year before, and the city centre felt busier, shoppers were more upbeat and positive.
"This is a great sign."
Top tips for managing credit cards:
* Shop around for the best deal
* Know the interest rate: Many credit cards charge around 20 per cent interest.
* Review your credit card limit.
* Pay off your card each month.
* Don't use your credit card to withdraw cash.
* Be wary of accepting a higher limit or another card.
* Avoid temptation: If you can't help spending more than you can afford, leave your card at home.
* If you're in trouble, talk to your bank.