Back-to-school purchases and scorching hot weather have combined to continue the region's steady retail growth, with consumer spending up for the first month of the year.

Latest figures from Paymark, which processes about 75 per cent of all New Zealand's electronic transactions, show consumers here spent at least $148.1 million in January, marking a 4.4 per cent rise from the sale time last year.

Paymark also noticed a 4.8 per cent rise in the number of transactions, after it processed 3.3m credit and debit card transactions across its Hawke's Bay network.

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Hastings City Business Association general manager Susan McDade said a combination of factors had helped boost growth.

"Our retailers are still reporting steady growth in the first months of the year buoyed in part by the hot dry summer weather, back to school spend and the recent cool change just as the winter fashions are being released.

"Consumer confidence seems high and the recent changes to the landscape of Hastings Central Business District are making an impact to the whole."

Hannah's Hastings store manager Kelly Cooper said the back-to-school market had been a positive one for some time.

"We have a bit of a big build-up to back-to-school. It started just after Christmas and it kept going, and it still is. So, yes there has certainly been a big influence on back-to-school."

Overall the retail sector was "definitely positive", she said.

The Warehouse general merchandise general manager Jenny Epke said there was also demand for cooling-off items, due to a hot period of weather, with fans, paddling pools and beach accessories "flying off the shelves".

Napier City Business manager Zoe Barnes said Napier retailers were still in the midst of an upward trend that was expected to continue.

"Napier CBD is continuing to enjoy the fruits of a strong tourism season with high foot traffic and full hospitality venues evident throughout the month of January. This trend has been ongoing for some time now as the Hawke's Bay reputation both nationally and internationally is strengthened.

"The cruise ships have definitely made their presence felt in the CBD also and with a few months left in the season along with key events such as Art Deco to come we look forward to welcoming thousands more people to our region."