Consumers opened their wallets again in January, after disappointing retailers by cutting back spending in December.
Consumer spending rose 1.9 per cent, seasonally adjusted, in January, according to the Commonwealth Bank's Business Sales Indicator (BSI), which tracks debt and credit card transactions at CBA's point-of-sale terminals.
CBA said the January figure reversed a 1.3 per cent fall in spending in December.
CommSec chief economist Craig James said the BSI figures showed consumers were still looking for discounts but were spending more than they were six months ago.
"The lift in spending in January coincided with post-Christmas sales, suggesting that consumers are more inclined to spend when goods or services are discounted," he said.
"However, we have seen positive indicators for some time now, with the underlying trend pattern ticking upward for the past five months."
CBA executive general manager, local business banking, Adam Bennett said the latest BSI figures suggested 2013 could be a better year for businesses.
"While Christmas spending did not have the impact many businesses had hoped for, the results of January spending offered some positive news," he said.
"The results show that although spending patterns remain erratic, consumers are still willing to spend and confidence is heading in the right direction."
Service providers recorded the strongest increase in sales, up 3.7 per cent in the month, in trend terms, while transportation was up 2.0 per cent.
Telephone order providers fared worse, with sales down 1.6 per cent in January.