• Eight consecutive declines marks longest slump ever recorded
  • Sales of furniture and appliances flat after previous drops

Brazil’s retail sales in September fell less than forecast by analysts as sales in hypermarkets and supermarkets gained.

Sales fell 0.5 percent after a 0.9 percent decline in August, the national statistics agency said in Rio de Janeiro. The eighth consecutive decline marks the longest slump on record, and was better than the median 0.9 percent drop estimated by 37 economists surveyed by Bloomberg.

Consumer confidence is withering in Latin America’s largest economy, as recession and inflation verging on double-digits weigh on shoppers. Unemployment that spiked this year is also sapping consumer demand that was the foundation of Brazil’s boom in recent years. Finance Minister Joaquim Levy, who has pursued austerity as a means to put Brazil back on a path to growth, this week faced renewed rumors he would be replaced.

Swap rates on the contract due January 2017 were unchanged at 15.47 percent at 9:09 a.m. local time. The real weakened 0.11 percent to 3.7652 per U.S. dollar.

Sales of food, beverages and tobacco at hypermarkets and supermarkets rose 0.1 percent for a second consecutive month. Sales of furniture and appliances were unchanged, after a 2.1 percent decline in August.

Brazil’s consumer confidence in October fell to its lowest ever recorded by the Getulio Vargas Foundation since the survey began a decade earlier. That’s helped drive the economy into two straight quarters of contraction, and Thursday’s data show family spending continued to drag on gross domestic product in the third quarter.

With Brazil’s retail sector struggling, Hypermarcas SA this month agreed to sell its personal-care and beauty division to New York-based Coty Inc. for about $1 billion, with the transaction slated to close by the end of March. Hypermarcas will use the proceeds to reduce debt and shift operations toward pharmaceuticals, “a segment with superior resilience to economic cycles,” ratings company Moody’s Investors Service said.

Retail sales in September fell 6.2 percent from the previous year, versus a median forecast for a 7.2 percent decline. The broader retail index, which includes cars and construction materials, dropped 11.5 percent from a year ago, versus a median estimate for a 12.2 percent fall.

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