Online spending is rising rapidly in Whanganui and local retailers are cashing in on the upswing.

Spending on domestic sites led the charge with a more than 40 per cent increase in October 2015 compared with October 2014.

The domestic rise in Whanganui was 48.4 per cent, while spending on international online sites was up 32.1 per cent. Total spending through websites was up 40.2 per cent, according to BNZ and Marketview figures.

Whanganui & Partners innovation leader Marianne Archibald said local shops who were increasing their online offerings were reaping the rewards.

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Some stores were marketing their goods to local shoppers and some were targeting buyers further afield.

The global increase in online shopping was a challenge and an opportunity for local retailers, Ms Archibald said.

"Locals might buy something online from Italy but someone from Italy can also now see what we are offering in Whanganui.

"Whanganui's market is global now and it's a matter of cleverly tapping into that and still providing and supporting a wonderfully vibrant town centre - that's the challenge and opportunity every town in the world faces.

"We can lead the charge or be swept away and actually our businesses are really picking up on the positive side of this global disruption."

Having people in the town centre was great for a community and meant people visiting one shop would also visit others and might get something to eat, too.

Ms Archibald said the town centre regeneration project had the potential to build on existing assets, heritage, history, environment, boutique shops, music scene, cultural prowess and make the town centre a great place for the community.

Whanganui and Partners was working with About Us to help local businesses get digital. Businesses engaged online received a 20 per cent increase in revenue, which was a good reason to go digital, she said.

Glass artist Katie Brown has been selling her pieces to Australian and American customers who contact her through her personal website.

She said she had had the website for about eight years and business had been increasing steadily over that time.

Her business Chronicle Glass also has website with contact details for anyone interested in its wares.

However, district councillor and clothing store owner Rob Vinsen believes online shopping in the clothing industry has peaked for now.

"There's a bit of a push back now because people are having experiences they don't particularly like."

Mr Vinsen, who own the Just Looking store on Victoria Ave, said many online shoppers had returned items they were unsatisfied with or sold them on Trade Me.

Online shopping appealed to people because it meant they had a worldwide market to choose from, he said. However, there was a risk that they would not like an item purchased on the basis of a photo.

His shop has focused on digital marketing rather than online sales.

Nationwide, total online retail spending in October was up 9.3per cent compared to the year before.

Growth in purchases from overseas slowed down while domestic merchants gained market share.

Caroline Beattie of Marketview said a number of factors, including the low New Zealand dollar, could affect online spending.