By Jeffrey T. Lewis
SAO PAULO--Brazil retail sales rose for the first time in three months in February as back-to-school spending boosted sales of books and other educational materials.
Sales increased a seasonally adjusted 0.6% in the month and fell 3.8% from a year earlier, the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics, or IBGE said Tuesday. In January, sales fell 0.2% in the month and declined a revised 0.4% from a year earlier.
Brazilian families typically have to make annual tax payments in January, cutting their spending in other areas, and in February Brazilian kids return to school and their parents have to purchase books, notebooks and related items. The Carnaval holiday in February or March usually adds to spending, but this year festivities were cancelled because of the pandemic.
The southern hemisphere summer break ends in January, "heating up purchases of school supplies," said Cristiano Santos, director of the retail sales area of the IBGE. "So, even with the cancellation of Carnaval, which impacts, for example, lower sales of alcoholic beverages in supermarkets, we had a positive variation this month."
Spending on books, newspapers and magazines increased 15.4% in February from January, and fell 41% from a year earlier. The increasing use of digital books has been reducing spending on books for years and the switch to online learning due to the pandemic seems to have accelerated the trend, Mr. Santos said.
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(END) Dow Jones Newswires