(Adds comments from Alshop president in paragraphs 4-7)
SAO PAULO Dec 27 Sales at malls in Brazil fell
in the Christmas period for a second straight year, in a sign of
low consumer confidence in the face of unemployment and high
Christmas sales declined 3 percent this year from a year
ago, Alshop, an industry group, said in a statement on Tuesday.
Year-to-date mall sales totaled 140.5 billion reais ($42.9
billion), a 3.2 percent nominal fall from 2015 and the first
drop in 12 years, Alshop said.
Over the Christmas period, malls hired 30 percent fewer
temporary workers than last year, the result of a reduction in
the number of stores in operation and a drop in customers,
"We expect things to improve next year because they cannot
get any worse," Nabil Sahyoun, president of Alshop, told
Measures to revive the economy will allow families to pay
bills in arrears and help expand the offer of credit, he said,
alluding to the recently-announced authorization for workers to
withdraw funds from inactive severance accounts.
The move will inject about 30 billion reais ($9.1 billion)
into the economy, the government said last week.
"Cutting interest rates at a pace faster than 25 basis
points and deepening labor reforms will also be crucial,"
The workforce at shopping malls shrank by more than
one-third to 1.3 million people this year from 2015.
Forty-two malls are under construction in Brazil and they
are expected to begin operations over the next three years,
according to an Alshop statement.
($1 = 3.2771 reais)
(Reporting by Ana Mano; Editing by Steve Orlofsky and Alistair