Expectations of a bumper sales period for businesses ahead of this week's GST rise have been tempered by a still weak retail space and cash conscious consumers holding out for holiday weekend bargains.

Sales in the car industry and retail space had been muted in the lead-up to the increase, however a modest surge in spending on some durables was possible, ASB chief economist Nick Tuffley said.

New Zealand spending on debit and credit cards rose marginally in August, propped up by an increase in non-retail items.

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