DEBIT and credit card transactions through National Australia Bank terminals during the December and January holidays soared 17.5 per cent on the year before, in a boost for Australian retailers following a lift in business confidence over the period.

The NAB's analysis, released on Wednesday, identified almost 165 million ATM, EFTPOS and credit card transactions processed through the bank's systems over the Boxing Day, stocktake and back-to-school sales period, about 24 million more than during the 2011-12 period.

NAB said year-on-year transactions through its terminals had continued to grow, rising by 73 million since 2007-08.

''The holiday period continues to mark a rise in the amount of card transactions processed by NAB systems, with technology making it easier and faster than ever to pay by card,'' the bank said.

An analysis by Commonwealth Bank of more than 3 million cardholders' transactions in the 11 weeks to January 4, released in mid January, found Christmas spending lifted by 4.2 per cent from the year before.

The latest data came as the bank released its monthly business survey for December on Tuesday, which found that business confidence has risen sharply following the financial crisis lows of the month before.

Optimism about the global economic recovery - such as the temporary aversion of the US ''fiscal cliff'' and more positive data about China - coupled with the Reserve Bank's 25-basis-points interest rate cut in December, helped to lift NAB's monthly business confidence index to 3 in December, from minus-9 the month before.

At the same time, the business conditions index improved from minus-6 in November to minus-4 in December.