Weak Black Friday adds to holiday pressure on retailers

black friday brazil 2021
Photo: Alf Ribeiro/Shutterstock

With consumers rattled by high unemployment and inflation, this year’s Black Friday was one of Brazil’s weakest since the unofficial holiday arrived in the country in 2010. Now, retailers only have the end-of-year holiday season to try and recoup losses suffered during the pandemic.

According to a retail index measured by credit card machine operator Cielo, retailers saw a 6.3-percent growth in sales on Black Friday compared to 2020, but results remained 9.1 percent below those recorded in 2019.

In other surveys carried out by Ebit/Nielsen and Neostrust, the nominal growth in online retail sales between last Thursday and Friday versus the same period in 2020 was 5 and 6 percent, respectively.

For economists, one of the reasons for this underwhelming performance is Brazil’s ongoing inflation spiral. The rise in consumer prices is currently in the double digits, reducing the real gains on Black Friday. A Central Bank survey of top-rated investment firms released today shows 2021 inflation forecasts sitting at 10.15 percent.

Weeks ago, the National Confederation of Commerce (CNC) had already suggested a worst-case scenario for this year’s Black Friday, tipping the volume of nominal sales to be down 6.5 percent due to inflation.

In addition, experts say that weak e-commerce performance can be explained by the strong base of comparison with 2020, when the segment experienced a boom amid coronavirus closures and social distancing measures. Specialists note that the lack of November payments from the government’s newly-created Auxílio Brasil cash transfer program could also have contributed to the underwhelming results.