Hawke's Bay nation-topping spending momentum has extended to the whole of December, according to Paymark figures.

Through the early part of the month Hawke's Bay was the region with the biggest growth in retail spending according to the company that processes 76 per cent of electronic transactions.

Spending was up 10.9 per cent on December last year, ahead of Bay of Plenty on 9.9 per cent and Otago on 9.5 per cent. The national increase was 6.6 per cent.

Leading the charge, with a 20.8 per cent increase, was the region's accommodation sector, followed by food and beverage on 16.1 per cent and electrical and electronic retailing at 12.6 per cent, but all sectors reported strong earnings.


Hawke's Bay Tourism general manager Annie Dundas said the organisation focused extra funding on continual marketing last year which looked to be "paying off", as well as a national upswing in tourism numbers.

"I have spoken to a few hoteliers this week and they have had a busier season than ever and those with restaurants attached have had a particularly good run with the cruise season.

Apple Activities owner Di Charlton said Hawke's Bay shoppers had increased confidence.

"It is a progressive, go-ahead place," the Hastings educational toy shop owner said.

December 23 was "really phenomenal" and shoppers buying later than previous years.

"Towards the end it was very busy, I guess because there is no time to buy online - they know they wouldn't get it on time - or people just leave things to the very end."

She said few men entered the store until the weeks before Christmas.

"We love the men - the men just spend. While they come in at the last minute they buy whatever you first suggest to them - they're quick and easy.

She said there was no fashionable swing to any toy this year apart from Thinking Putty, which never dried out, and Touchable Bubbles.

"They were just stocking-filler things but we literally sold hundreds a day."

She felt larger retailers selling big-ticket items benefited more than smaller independent shops from increased spending and Napier was "booming".

Kitchen Things manager Bridget Doughty said December sales were very strong for the Napier store.

"It will be interesting to see what will happen this year - I think there will be more growth," she said.

She said there was a "huge amount" of people relocating from Auckland and Wellington "with obviously a lot more money in their pocket" making purchases at the specialist appliance store.

She said the strengthening Hawke's Bay property market made it "too hard to buy" for many people and they were "staying put and renovating".

"If you want to buy a property now you pretty much have to be a cash buyer or you miss out."