December was a record-breaking month for Whanganui retailers.

Local businesses had the biggest Christmas season up to date, with consumers spending $57.5 million during December 2019.

Whanganui & Partners' Strategic Lead for Manufacturing, Logistics and Commercial, Rhonda Morris, put the growth down to the efforts of local business owners.

"2019 saw a lot of new and exciting businesses starting up. More choice attracts more customers into town, which is great even for our established businesses," Morris said.

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"Consumers have more options than ever, and the fact that so many are choosing to visit local retailers says something about the quality of the shopping and dining experience in Whanganui."

Whanganui's consumer spend was up 3.3 per cent from December 2018, with nationwide consumer spend only up 2.3 per cent.

Morris said the above-average increase reflected a healthy local economy.

"December is always our best month for retail, but activity in our commercial sector has been outperforming the nation all year," she said.

"Over the entirety of 2019, our spend was up 4.7 per cent on the year before. This is compared to spend nationwide, which was again only up 2.3 per cent.

"We keep a close eye on this metric, not just because of its value to our commercial sector but also as a gauge for the overall economy.

"Consumer spending is a product of people having disposable incomes and enough confidence in the future to spend rather than save.

"When the spend is going up, it means that our community is feeling positive about their own financial situation and also where the economy is going."