By Chesney Hearst, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Retailers in the city of Rio reported mixed results during the last shopping weekend before Christmas this year. Shopping malls saw lower sales than last year as shops in Centro saw streets filled with bargain-hungry consumers.
While sales increased 8.5 percent in shopping malls from 2011 to 2012, the Brazilian Association of Shopping Retailers (ALSHOP) projected a more modest five percent rise in sales in 2013’s holiday season. The information comes from 6,700 retailers who make up the association.
Luis Augusto Ildefonso, director of Institutional Relations at the ALSHOP, attributed the decrease in sales numbers to the recent interest rate hike, high price of the U.S. dollar and the return of inflation. Ildefonso told O Globo that all of “these factors will cause consumers to be more frugal and spend less than last year.”
The most popular items selling in malls this season are toys, clothes and electronics. Sales of home appliances may have seen a decline due to the recent increase on the Tax on Industrialized Products (IPI).
Numbers from this holiday season are showing that cash-strapped consumers are actively seeking bargains in discount shops across town. In the collective of affordable and bargain shops in Rio’s Centro, known as the Society of Friends of Street Customs and Adjacencies (SAARA), sales forecasts predict a ten percent to fifteen percent jump in sales compared to last year, according to the popular shopping district’s organizers.
Enio Bittencourt, chairman of SAARA, told Agência Basil that on Saturday, December 21st, almost one million shoppers made their way through the shops that make up the SAARA, along the streets of Alfândega, Buenos Aires, Passos, Andradas and the Praça da República.
Although the numbers of consumers that hit the shops on Sunday were less than on Saturday, Bittencourt affirmed that “the streets are full.” Usually only open Monday through Saturday, over ninety percent of the shops opened on Sunday last week and yesterday, December 22nd. “Opening for these last two Sundays was worth it. We are earning,” said Bittencourt. Both Rio shopping malls and SAARA expect sales to increase through Christmas Eve on Tuesday, December 24th.
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