Hawke's Bay Chamber of Commerce says the region's recovery from the economic recession has been patchy.
The latest analysis of economic activity by the National Bank shows Hawke's Bay was the second worst performing region, with negative growth of almost 1%.
Chamber chief executive Murray Douglas says that is not surprising.
He says housing permits have improved slightly but commercial building permits are down 11%.
Mr Douglas says the development of a 30,000 square metre retail complex in Hastings will benefit the construction industry, but could hurt inner city retailers.
Because the Hawke's Bay economy is largely export based, he says the fortunes of farmers, orchardists and grape growers will determine when the economy fully recovers.