The volume of retail sales gained a seasonally adjusted 1.6% in the three months.
Sales rose 1.7 percent, seasonally adjusted, in the fourth quarter from three months earlier.
Long, hot summer saps consumer appetite to buy more clothing.
The New Zealand dollar jumps as high as 85.15 US cents after the report.
Retail sales fell 0.7% last month, according to the latest electronic transactions data.
Core retail sales in the December quarter showed the largest rise since 1995.
The Meeting Place of Intelligent Business