Retail spending in Northland was down slightly during the three months to September 30, Statistics NZ figures reveal.
Figures released to the Advocate show total retail sales fell 0.1 per cent between the June and September quarters in Whangarei.
Sales in the Far North and Kaipara districts dropped by 6.8 per cent during the same period.
But year-on-year figures forecast a more promising outlook for Northland.
Figures from the Quarterly Retail Trade Survey show a 4.7 per cent increase in sales between the 2012 and 2011 September quarters for the Whangarei district, while Far North and Kaipara districts sales were up 1.9 per cent year-on-year.
Tim Robinson, a member of the Northland Chamber of Commerce board, said the improvement may be evidence of increased activity in Northland's farming sector.
"Although agriculture is still straining under debt and the banks wanting capital repayment done, it does possibly indicate that there actually is a level of farm income flowing back into the local economy," Mr Robinson said. "People actually are spending something."
Nationally, seasonally-adjusted retail sales dipped 0.8 per cent since the June quarter.
Supermarket and grocery sales dipped 1.6 per cent, motor-vehicles and parts sales dropped 1.8 per cent and fuel retailing was down 1.9 per cent but Business NZ chief executive Phil O'Reilly said the decline was minor: "It's not bad especially as the New Zealand economy faces really significant headwinds."