(Adds breakdown by sector, supermarket sales)
By Silvio Cascione
BRASILIA, Nov 12 (Reuters) - Retail sales in Brazil fell for an eighth straight month in September as the country's recession worsened, although the decline was slightly smaller than expected as supermarket sales held steady for a second month in a row.
Retail sales volumes in Brazil excluding automobiles and building materials fell 0.5 percent in September from August , statistics agency IBGE said on Thursday. The drop was smaller than the expected decline of 0.75 percent in a Reuters poll of 20 economists.
Sales dropped 6.2 percent in September from a year earlier, less than the poll's estimate for a 7.3 percent drop.
Sales declined in six of eight categories of the IBGE index from August, including apparel, office supplies and health and personal care items. Supermarket sales, the single most important part of the retail survey, remained unchanged from the previous month, IBGE said.
A broader measure of the retail index including cars and building materials showed a steeper decline of 1.5 percent in September from August as higher interest rates discouraged the purchase of big-ticket items.
Consumer confidence, set a new low in October, suggesting no forthcoming relief for Brazilian retailers bracing for the worst holiday shopping season in more than a decade.
Brazil's largest retailer, GPA SA , highlighted the sector's slowdown in late October posted an unexpected loss of 122 million reais ($32.11 million) in the third quarter. The company has cut more than 10,000 payroll jobs this year in an attempt to reduce costs. (Reporting by Silvio Cascione; Editing by Toby Chopra and W Simon)