The Kaikoura earthquake does not appear to have affected retail and hospitality spending in Wellington City, recent figures show.

The exception is domestic tourism spending, with out-of-towners spending 11 per cent less in December last year, compared with December 2015, where non-local spending was up 17.9 per cent.

Spending figures in Wellington have otherwise remained flat, with little difference to the previous year for the December quarters.

First Retail Group director Chris Wilkinson said there were new stores opening in Wellington and a great Christmas event in the last quarter, so they had expected spending to be higher than it was.


Core retail spending, which does not include food, fuel or travel related stores, was down 0.8 per cent from 2015. Hospitality spending was down 0.1 per cent.

"The good part is we didn't lose much of anything but we did expect it to be significantly better because of all those other aspects," Wilkinson said.

"The most important thing was we didn't lose in a big way."

The figures were interesting when compared with Auckland, which had not suffered an earthquake but was still down 8 per cent in core retail spending. The previous year it was up 10.1 per cent.

Wilkinson put the lower spending figures in Auckland down to uncertainty about house prices, leading to consumers lacking in confidence with their money.

Hospitality spending in Auckland remained high in the December quarter however, up 11.1 per cent from 2015.

For the December quarter, Auckland's spending from non-locals was down 6.2 per cent as well. For Wellington it was down 0.2 per cent.

Marketview senior solutions specialist Michael Stechman believed it wasn't due to a lack of tourists visiting Auckland, but a lack of big-spenders.

"I think they've lost a little bit of international spending, some tourists who have been, in previous years, quite high spenders, high rollers, some haven't returned," Stechman said.

Meanwhile Wellington was still receiving international tourists and their dollars, but fewer Kiwi tourists.

While some pockets of the city were badly affected by the earthquake in terms of retail spending, much of the spending was simply shifted to other areas of the city, keeping the overall figure flat.

"I guess the general theme is that the Wellington retail is tracking pretty flat in general, and while the earthquake was obviously terrible for some pockets of retailers, I think by and large people from Wellington just decided to spend elsewhere in the city. So we just had a bit of a reshuffling effect," Stechman said.

While the overall core retail and hospitality spending was flat, this did not appear to be affected by the earthquake, because it was also flat the year before.

"I'm sure retailers would prefer if it was tracking a little bit better," he said.

"I'm not sure what the silver bullet, so to speak, would be."