By Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The sales figures from the supermarket sector fell by 1.61 percent in February compared to January of this year, but reflects an increase of 2.92 percent compared to February 2015, according to the National Index Sales of the Brazilian Association of Supermarkets (ABRAS).
The same report showed that cumulatively, through the first two months of this year, sales fell 0.36 percent, compared to the same period last year.
Chairman of the Advisory Council of ABRAS, Sussumu Honda, told government sources that, “January came with a strong negative number but in February [it] already has a better number compared with last year.”
Adding, “It shows some recovery because although many bad indicators, our retail has shown a better number than had been having. Always taking into account that in February we had Carnival and the leap year with an extra day in the month.”
Last year the entire retail sector in Brazil registered the worst decline in sales since the historic data series started, in 2001. According to Brazil’s IBGE (Statistics Bureau), retail sales fell by 4.3 percent in 2015. Data for the expanded survey shows that the segment which registered the highest decline was automobile sales (-17.8 percent).
Other segments with the largest retractions were; furniture and household appliances (-14 percent), books, newspapers and paper products (-10.9 percent) and clothing and shoes (-8.7 percent). The segment of supermarkets, food, beverages and tobacco declined by only 2.5 percent.
In terms of prices, the product basket index Abrasmercado, which compares prices in 325 stores across the country analyzes 35 broad consumer products, rose by 0.88 percent, from R$452.22 in January to R$456.22 in February. Among the products with the highest increases in price are: eggs (9.46 percent), cassava flour (7.31 percent), rice (6.69 percent) and beans (4.87 percent). The biggest drops in prices were with tomatoes (-14.39 percent) and pork roast shoulder (-4.73 percent).
Belinda Casson, an Australian expatriate living in Rio and working at Caminhos Language Centre in Ipanema shares, “When I’m at the supermarket shopping I find myself spending more each time. A normal trip to Zona Sul supermarket for a few basics can easily be R$50 (bread, milk, eggs, biscuits and water).”
“If you are spending R$50 each couple of days for just the basic items, this adds up. I’m not shopping as much – I’ve decided to leave it to once a week and do one shop so I don’t get caught up spending on things I normally wouldn’t buy.”
Casson adds, “Prices seem to be rising predominately for ‘personal’ products like deodorants, shampoos, soaps, shavers etc. These products are becoming increasingly unaffordable. I have witnessed on several occasions theft in supermarkets of these types of products because they are just unaffordable for the normal every day person.”
Casson continues, “In addition to this category, prices for imported products like nice chocolate (kinder, lindt, ferrero rocher) seem to be rising and also ‘gourmet breads or pastries’. I recently bought two chocolate croissants and nearly spent R$20! It’s really frustrating when you have to watch every penny in Rio supermarkets when these products would be easily affordable in other countries such as Australia.”
According to Marcus Aurelius, director at research firm Relacionamento da GK, “There were isolated influences in some products. In January and February, it rained a lot in some regions. The price of rice has increased because it rained in Rio Grande do Sul at the time of harvest.”
The largest price increase was recorded in the North (4.18 percent). In the South, the increase was 0.39 percent, followed by the Northeast with 0.28 percent, and the Southeast, with 0.11 percent. In the Midwest, a drop of 0.93 percent.