New Zealanders spent 2.6 per cent more in the week leading up to Christmas this year than they did a year ago, due mainly to a resurgent Canterbury region that wasn't reeling from yet another earthquake.

Retail spending rose to $1.33 billion in the week ended December 23, from $1.29 billion in the same week a year earlier, according to Paymark figures, which account for about three quarters of all electronic transactions.

Almost a third of that increase came from Canterbury which registered an 8 per cent lift from a year ago when the country's second-biggest city was dealing with a major earthquake.

"Canterbury has really steamed ahead of the other regions in terms of spending growth in the lead up to Christmas,'' Paymark chief executive Simon Tong said in a statement. "In the past few days we've seen the spending growth rate decelerate slightly to become more in line with the average growth rate over the past 11 months.''


The figures come after government figures this month showed sales on electronic cards rose 0.5 per cent in November, led by spending on hospitality.

Today's Paymark figures reported a 1.9 per cent increase in Auckland/Northland spending to $520 million, while Wellington showed a 1.6 per cent fall to $128.6 million.