Chilean Retail Sales Jump 7.9% on Early Onset of Winter

  • Early arrival of cold weather boosts sales, economist says
  • Manufacturing fell 1.2% in April, industrial output slid 3.4%

Chilean retail sales rose at the fastest pace in two-and-a-half years in April as early rains and cold weather encouraged consumers to shop for winter clothes earlier than last year.

Sales leaped 7.9 percent from the year earlier, the national statistics agency said on its website Monday, compared with the 4.5 percent median forecast of 13 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. Manufacturing fell 1.2 percent over the same period, while industrial output declined 3.4 percent.

The rebound in retail sales is unlikely to last long after unemployment began to edge higher in March following two years of sluggish economic growth, said Felipe Alarcon, an economist with Euroamerica. Moreover, the boost from shoppers looking for winter fashions will revert by July, he said. An extra Friday and Saturday in April this year, compared with April 2015, also helped boost sales, the statistics agency said.

"We can’t draw very positive conclusions from this,” Alarcon said. “We expect that over the next few months this trend will revert. More than half of retail sales growth, about 4.25 percent, came from the clothes and shoes sector."

The jobless rate rose to 6.3 percent in the first quarter from 5.9 percent in the month-earlier period.

"It is very difficult that this recovery keeps its pace if unemployment grows," Alarcon said. "It is highly probable that we will have negative growth in July, when sales were higher last year."

For more on the government’s hiring policies, click here.

Copper production fell to the lowest level in more than two years after heavy rain and mudslides in the central region interrupted some mines. Output slid to 432,277 tons from 471,361 the year earlier.

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