New Zealanders opened up their wallets last month and took to the shops as inflation and fuel prices remained low, according to figures from the government statistics agency Monday.
Retail spending using credit and debit cards rose 3.7 percent year on year to 4.7 billion NZ dollars (3.5 billion U.S. dollars) in March, said Statistics New Zealand.
Retail spending was up 0.8 percent in March from the previous month, and followed a 1.1-percent rise in February.
"After removing seasonal effects, spending rose in four of the six retail industries," business indicators manager Neil Kelly said in a statement.
The largest increase came from the consumables industry, which includes food and liquor retailing.
Core retail spending (which excludes the vehicle-related industries) rose 0.8 percent in March 2015, following a 1.2- percent rise in February 2015.
An Economic Note from the ASB Bank on Monday estimated the first quarter consumer price index (CPI) inflation was just 0.1 percent, with annual inflation to the end of March shrinking to 0. 3 percent from 0.8 percent in the year to the end of December 2014.
It said lower petrol prices were the key driver of the decline, directly taking 0.6 percentage points from the CPI index.
Statistics New Zealand is scheduled to release the official CPI for the March quarter on April 20.