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By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter

SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Retail sales in Brazil registered a decline of 8.3 percent in the first semester of 2016 in comparison to the same period last year, according to the Serasa Experian Retail Activity Index. The result is the worst performance for a first semester since 2002, when the country faced one of its worst energy crises.

Brazil,Retail sales for the first semester are the worst since 2002,
Retail sales for the first semester are the worst since 2002, photo by Marcos Santos/USP Imagens/Fotos Publicas.

“The sharp decline in retail sales in the first half of 2016 is explained by the continued increase of the country’s unemployment rate, the depressed consumer confidence levels as well as the more restrictive conditions of installment-plan sales,” said the Serasa report released on Wednesday.

According to Serasa, the greatest retraction in retail sales for the period was seen in the automobile and autoparts segment, with a decline of seventeen percent in relation to the first semester of 2015.

The auto segment was followed by sales of clothing, footwear and textiles, which declined by 13.9 percent during the first six months of the year. Durable goods such as furniture, electro-electronics and computer equipment fell by 13.3 percent.

According to the report only the segment of fuel and lubricants closed the first semester of the year in positive territory, with sales increasing by 4.3 percent.

With retail sales in negative territory and forecasts of a longer-than-expected economic recession, many small and medium sized companies in Brazil have been forced to file for judicial recovery protection.

A survey released in early June by Serasa Experian showed that the number of companies filing for protection from creditors increased by 95 percent in the first five months of 2016 in comparison to the same period last year.

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