Online retail spending is still on the up following high sales over Christmas and January, with February sales up 14 per cent on the previous year - boosted by the extra day in the leap year.

The latest BNZ online retail sales data showed sales for the 2016 year to date had been up around 14 per cent compared with the previous year, with international sales making up a significant portion of total figures.

Online spending at local businesses was up 10 per cent on February last year, essentially mirroring the performance of physical stores, based on Statistics NZ figures for electronic card transactions.

The highest sales locally were in the food sector with online sales for supermarket and groceries up by more than 30 per cent from the same month last year, although according to director of institutional research at BNZ Gary Baker, this may not all be from food spend.


"[Supermarket and grocery spend is] growing quite fast and included in that is specialised food stores so that's supplements and vitamins and things," Baker said. "I think a lot of people do buy that kind of stuff online - protein powder and vitamins and things, so it's not necessarily just straight supermarkets."

Internationally, purchases of computer and entertainment media goods from overseas merchants was up 40 per cent and 55 per cent respectively compared to February last year. Clothing from overseas sites was up 12 per cent compared to 13 per cent for local online clothing sales.

"It does change from month to month, so these figures bounce around a bit but clothing is quite a big category," Baker said. "It's one of the major ones and it's still growing quite fast and quite solid growth - and it's the same in Aussie as well. Australia's fashion category was up 14 per cent on February last year as well so we are sort of mirroring what's happening there a bit, it's quite similar," he said.

"We do tend to have a similar result to Australia in many ways and similar online versus bricks and mortar figures."

For the 12 months ended February, Kiwis spent $3.3 billion online excluding GST.