Australian retail sales advanced in February for a second straight month, led by gains at department stores and news stands.

Sales climbed 0.2 per cent from a month earlier, when they increased 0.3 per cent, the Bureau of Statistics said in Sydney yesterday.

The data reinforce Reserve Bank of Australia Governor Glenn Stevens' decision to keep the benchmark interest rate unchanged at 4.25 per cent this year as a mining investment boom intensifies and risks from Europe's sovereign-debt crisis ebb. The RBA was expected to extend the pause at its policy meeting yesterday.

Consumers spent 1.4 per cent less on clothes and footwear and 0.7 per cent less at cafes and restaurants, the data showed. Woolworths projects annual online sales will reach A$1 billion by the end of 2014 as consumers shift to buying through websites and smartphones.


- Bloomberg