Brazilian retail sales fell back by 0.7 percent in January against the previous month and 7.0 percent against January 2016, the Brazilian Census Bureau (IBGE) said Thursday. Fuel led the decline following an early-year price hike, but big-ticket items such as home appliances and office equipment were down sharply as well, due mainly to continued high interest rates. Supermarket sales posted a lukewarm gain of just 0.2 percent. The figures are seasonally adjusted and economists said high levels of unemployment continue to weigh against retail sales at all levels. Retail sales declined 6.2 percent in 2016 against the previous year as Brazilians coped with a second straight year of recession.
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