New Zealand retail spending on electronic cards gained in December for the fourth month in a row, driven by higher fuel prices.

Seasonally adjusted total retail spending on credit and debit cards - including vehicle-related spending - increased 0.5 per cent in December, boosted by a 4 per cent rise in fuel spending to $618 million, Statistics New Zealand said in a statement.

Core retail spending, excluding fuel and vehicles, was down 0.2 per cent in December, after three consecutive monthly rises. Shoppers spent 2.2 per cent less on clothing and 0.1 per cent less on hospitality in December.

Spending on furniture, hardware, and appliances (durables) was unchanged in December, after a 1.2 percent rise in November. Durable industry figures are provisional for December and may be updated in the future, as more detailed data becomes available, Stats NZ said.

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Today's figures show actual total retail spending climbed a provisional 3.3 per cent to $6.68 billion in December from the same month a year earlier. Card-holders across all industries made 161 million transactions in the month, up from 147 million in November. The average value lifted to $53 from $50 in November.

- Business Desk