Brazilian Retail Sales Rose Slightly as Supermarket Sales Increased

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10/10/2019 | 12:35 pm

By Jeffrey T. Lewis

SAO PAULO--Brazil's retail sales rose slightly in August, the third consecutive monthly increase, as the slow decline in unemployment, and the poor quality of new-job creation, boosted sales to lower-income shoppers.

Sales rose a seasonally adjusted 0.1% and rose 1.3% from Aug., 2018, the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics, or IBGE said Thursday. Last month, the IBGE reported retail sales increased 1% in July and rose 4.3% from a year earlier.

Brazil's jobless was at 11.8% in the three months through July, unchanged from the three months through June, as the country's sluggish economic growth has resulted in new-job creation concentrated in the most precarious categories, the self-employed and under-the-table employment.

The retail sales figures reflect an improvement in purchases by low-income shoppers, IBGE said. Sales at supermarkets rose 0.6% in August, the fourth positive figure in this area, and purchases of other items for personal and household use increased 0.2%. Those two categories represent more than 60% of total retail sales, according to IBGE.

"The increase in those two groups indicate the profile of the most basic consumers, associated with the lowest income classes in the population," said Isabella Nunes, IBGE's research manager.

Retail sales in Brazil are expected to continue to increase very slowly in coming months, because economic growth is forecast to increase slowly as well, according to Pedro Coelho Afonso, chief economist at Sao Paulo-based PCA Capital.

"Unemployment is still high and consumers still see the economy as not being in good shape," he said.

Write to Jeffrey T. Lewis at

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