In the second quarter, wholesale sales had fallen 0.9 percent.
Statistics New Zealand said on Monday the overall picture across the 16 wholesale trade industries was mixed, with nine industries falling and seven increasing in the quarter.
The decline was led by an 8.4 percent drop in primary product food wholesaling, partly offset by a 4.1 percent rise in food and grocery products.
The value of sales in the third quarter was NZ$20.2 billion, the lowest in almost three years.
The level of wholesale stocks fell a seasonally adjusted 5.1 percent, the largest since the series began. It followed a fall of 4.6 percent in the previous quarter.
The survey monitors the level of activity in the wholesale trade sector, which supplies retailers.
New Zealand emerged from its longest recession in more than 30 years in the three months to June 30, and is expected to post modest growth in the third quarter.
The Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) has held its key interest rate at a record low of 2.5 percent since June and has said repeatedly that it expects to keep it there until the second half of 2010.
All 19 economists in the latest Reuters poll expect the RBNZ to keep the key rate at 2.5 percent on Dec. 10. See
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