Hastings retailers are happy with an increase in spending, with a total $72.6 million spent in CBD shops and eateries in the last three months of 2015.
A big leap in retail spending in Hastings is very positive news for the district, said Hastings mayor Lawrence Yule.
In the three months to December spending in Hastings shops and eateries was up almost 20 per cent on the same period a year before, a report commissioned by the Hastings District Council says.
Nationally retail spending was up just 2.6 per cent.
Siobhan McCormack has owned the Little Red Bookshop in its current location for two years. She said they had noticed an increase in spending at the end of last year, but it wasn't much more than 2014.
"In terms of numbers it's dismal, but the people who do come in spend a lot."
She said the free parking had really contributed to the increased spending.
"It works because people come in for things and it takes an hour, so the free parking has taken away some of the stress and they're more relaxed."
Mr Yule said the Marketview report, which measured credit card and eftpos transactions, had "great news" in it.
"It's a real reflection of an increase in the confidence and prosperity of our district."
He said the retail jump was extremely satisfying and showed the district was on the right track.
"Both council and the district's business associations work hard at making our shopping areas as welcoming and vibrant as possible - and it is paying off."
Shops selling furniture and flooring, and cafes and restaurants saw the greatest jumps, up 50.7 and 11.2 per cent respectively.
Hastings furniture and flooring business Hutchinson's co-owner Nathan Hutchinson said business had definitely been upbeat and steadier. Co-owner Hamish Gibbs felt there was more confidence in the market with people in Hawke's Bay, which was reflected in spending.
Little BlackBird Cafe owner Lucinda Sherratt said their catering began in October increased turnover, but now school holidays were over she thought spending would settle.
"As soon as the sun starts shining we seem to get busier."
Her customers were "mostly locals, but in January we get a lot of people from out of town".
The report revealed 70 per cent of customers were from Hastings, with increases in the number of shoppers from Napier, Central Hawke's Bay and Wairoa.