Brazil's Retail Sales Drop More Than Expected in January

Brazil’s retail sales fell twice as much as forecast in January as double-digit inflation and rising joblessness take a toll on consumers’ purchasing power.

Sales fell 1.5 percent after a 2.7 percent drop in December, the national statistics agency said Thursday. That was more than all but one prediction from 39 economists, whose median forecast was for a 0.7 percent decline. Sales fell 10.3 percent over the past 12 months.

Retail sales fell the most on record last year as more than 1.5 million Brazilians lost their jobs. Latin America’s largest economy recorded its worst performance in a quarter century in 2015 and economists see no recovery in sight as political stalemate and an impeachment campaign against President Dilma Rousseff nearly paralyze the government, discouraging investment.

Sales of food, beverages and tobacco products at hypermarkets and supermarkets declined 0.9 percent in January from the previous month as annual consumer inflation remained above 10 percent in the beginning of the year.

Broad retail sales, which include car parts and construction materials, sank 13.3 percent from the same month the prior year.

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