Spending in Christchurch's retail and hospitality sector surged in the final three months of 2013, according to Statistics New Zealand today.

Total retail and hospitality sales rose 3.5 per cent for Christchurch in the December 2013 quarter, while nationally total sales rose 1.2 per cent over the same period.

"This quarter's increase is the largest since the June 2011 quarter," industry and labour statistics manager Tehseen Islam said.

"The surge in spending has pushed Christchurch's growth further ahead of the national growth."


In actual terms, retail and hospitality sales in Christchurch were 8.4 per cent higher in the December 2013 quarter than in the same quarter in 2012.

This growth in Christchurch retail sales continues to be driven by hardware, building, and garden supplies, Statistics New Zealand said.

After a pause in Q3, Christchurch retail sales have continued to grow strongly, says ASB economist Daniel Smith.

"While the rebuild is driving sales directly in some areas (building and hardware, for example), plentiful job opportunities and strong consumer confidence are leading to a broad-based rise in retail sales and general economic activity in the region." Smith said.

Increased population growth for the region is also expected to help fuel higher levels of retail activity, Smith added.

"Over the year to February the Canterbury region gained a net 5,088 international migrants. That is the largest annual inflow since the data began in 1990," Smith said.

The Retail Trade Survey, released last month, showed that nationally, of the 15 different retail sectors looked at, nine had higher sales volumes.

Those with the biggest increases were: fuel retailing up 5.7 per cent; clothing, footwear and accessories up 9.9 per cent, and recreational goods up 8.6 per cent.

Read the full Statistics New Zealand release here: