Bay of Plenty people are spending more online - but retailers say instore shopping continues to be a strong preference for many.
The BNZ Marketview report for December showed a 3 per cent increase in online shopping from December 2013 by Bay of Plenty residents. Spending on domestic sites was down 2.8 per cent, while spending on overseas sites was up 13.7 per cent.
However, one Bay of Plenty retailer moved from being solely online to opening a store last year in response to demand.
Sharlene Nuthall, owner of The Formal Shop in Tauranga, opened her store last March after almost two years online.
"When the shop was only online, we constantly got emails from people who were wanting to see the dresses and try them on before they bought them. So we were clearly losing sales because of that," she said. "As soon as we opened the store, sales skyrocketed."
Ms Nuthall said her business still did quite a few online sales but people generally called before they purchased.
"New Zealanders are a little bit paranoid, maybe because of experiences with overseas websites.
"There's lots of rogue websites, especially in this industry. Once someone's had one bad experience where what they have ordered isn't the right colour or the quality's not very good, they're hesitant to buy online again."
Ms Nuthall has also enlisted a stockist in Auckland to give more customers the opportunity to try before buying.
Marketview managing director Stephen Bridle said it was interesting to see New Zealanders living outside of metro areas embracing online spending on overseas sites.
"The growth in e-commerce internationally has started putting 5th Ave and Oxford St into the living rooms and kitchens of provincial New Zealand households - and they seem to love it," he said.
Nationally, online spending was up 12 per cent from December 2013.
At domestic merchants, online spending increased 7 per cent year-on-year. BNZ institutional research director Gary Baker said it was a strong result for December as online spending had been growing at only 3 or 4 per cent per annum for most of the year .
Overall, it seemed the proportion of Christmas presents bought online increased another notch in 2014, Mr Baker said.
"This year we have seen a shift in the timing of online purchases, with an increase in the percentage of domestic online transactions completed in the three days just prior to Christmas," he said.
"A few delayed transactions aside, it seems to us this is an indication of consumers' growing confidence in shopping online, and their willingness to wait for those best last-minute deals. It also points to the efficiency of New Zealand e-tailers' supply chains."