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Brazil Retail Sales Fall Sharply Amid Covid-19 Scare

Brazil's retail sales decline at a sharp pace in March, as people chose to spend only on essentials such as food amid the crisis triggered by the spread of the coronavirus, or Covid-19, figures from the statistical office IBGE showed on Wednesday.

Retail sales decreased a seasonally adjusted 2.5 percent month-on-month after a 0.5 percent gain in the previous month. Economists had forecast a 7.7 percent decline.

Among the different groups, sales of textile and clothing logged a massive 42.2 percent fall, followed by books and stationery with a 36.1 percent slump.

Sales in department stores and supermarkets grew 16.3 percent, and including food sales, the increase was 14.6 percent. Pharmaceuticals and cosmetics segment logged a sales growth of 1.3 percent versus 0.7 percent in the previous month.

Broad retail sales, which include sales of automobiles and construction goods, decreased 13.7 percent monthly in March after a 0.5 percent gain in each of the previous two months.

Sales of automobiles crashed 36.4 percent, while those of construction material dropped 17.1 percent.

On a year-on-year basis, retail sales fell an unadjusted 1.2 percent in March after a 4.7 percent increase in the previous month. That was the first fall in 12 months. Economists were looking for a 6 percent decline.

Broad retail sales dropped 6.3 percent after a 3 percent increase.

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