By Leo Byrne, Contributing Reporter RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Rio’s inhabitants were struck with Christmas shopping fever this season with consumers spending thousands of Reals in shopping malls around the city. The highest reported figure came from the BarraShopping mall in the Zona Oeste (West Zone) where retailers stated that the average spend was R$1,500. Shoppers have been spending record amounts in the run to up to Christmas this year, photo by Leo Byrne. The figure was calculated via promotions whereby shoppers received coupons in exchange for purchases. The coupons entered holders into sweepstakes and gave them a chance to win numerous prizes such as cars, apartments and holidays. In BarraShopping where shoppers were eligible to win a BMW320i, spending was on average R$1,500, a fifty percent increase when compared to the same period in 2012. In Rio Grande, the shopping center’s prize was an apartment valued at R$129,000 which caused a twenty percent increase in money spent when compared to the previous year. Botafogo Praia Shopping’s director Daniela Paladinini said that consumers were spending on average R$900 in the last weekend before Christmas. This represented a seventeen percent increase compared to the previous year. Christmas fever also affected shoppers in São Paulo. Two of the city’s main commercial districts, Rua 25 de Março and the Brás neighborhood saw large crowds and intense shopping. Retailers in the former said they expected sales to be twice that of the three percent increase seen the previous year. Increases in the cost of living, high inflation and an emerging middle class have meant prices and spending have been growing year on year in Brazil. The Mercer report, which ranks cities according cost of living, ranks São Paulo and Rio as the two most expensive places to live in South America. Experts warned consumers should resist the urge to splurge on consumer items using credit lines they cannot afford. As the country’s swelling middle class adjusts to its increased access to credit, some figures show that 5.5 million more Brazilians defaulted on their debts between January and October this year. Read more (in Portuguese). * The Rio Times Daily Updates feature is offered to help keep you up-to-date with important news as it happens. Leave a Reply Cancel Reply Your email address will not be published.