Retail sales in Brazil plunged 6.2% in 2016, the second year of losses in a row, the Brazilian Census Bureau (IBGE) said Tuesday. Retail sales had declined 4.2 percent in 2015. Retail sales in Brazil have been hurt by a long recession combined with persistent inflation and high interest rates. Unemployment has soared, leading to a sharp decline in consumer confidence. Sales were down in all categories in 2016 but big-ticket items were the worst hit because of consistently high interest rates. Sales of home appliances plunged 12.6 percent while personal computers and related items fell back 12.3 percent. Even supermarket sales were off, declining 3.1 percent. Economists are hopeful of a broad recovery this year. Interest rates are already in decline, along with inflation. Economists are predicting a modest rise in overall economic activity in 2017 after two years of retreat.
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