Brazil Retail Sales Fell Slightly in November as Consumers Cut Back

SÃO PAULO--Brazil retail sales fell slightly in November as shoppers spent less at supermarkets and hypermarkets and cut back on purchases of new furniture and home appliances.

Sales fell a seasonally adjusted 0.1% in the month, the first decline in seven months, and rose 3.4% from a year earlier, the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics, or IBGE said Thursday. In October, sales climbed a revised 0.8% in the month and rose a revised 8.4% from a year earlier.

Even with the small decline in November, retail sales remained 7.3% above the pre-pandemic level, the IBGE said.

The Brazilian government made emergency aid payments to the country's poorest residents to help them during the coronavirus pandemic, temporarily lifting millions out of poverty and boosting retail sales and industrial production for months. But the government cut the payments in half starting in September and they ended after December, which, along with high unemployment, is expected to hurt sales beginning in the new year.

Higher inflation in recent months, mostly because of a rapid rise in the price of some food products, has also hurt purchasing power and had an effect on sales, according to Cristiano Santos, the IBGE's manager of the retail sales reports.

"It's common for consumers, when there's a drop in income or purchasing power, to buy fewer products that aren't essential and to choose cheaper brands, "says Santos.

Total sales at supermarkets and hypermarkets fell 2.3% in November after a rise of 0.7% in October, while sales of just food, drink and tobacco at that category of store fell 2.2% in the month following a rise of 0.8% in October. Sales of furniture and household appliances fell 0.1% in November following a decline of 1.4% the previous month.

Write to Jeffrey T. Lewis at jeffrey.lewis@wsj.com


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