(Adds details of retail sales data, economic context)
SAO PAULO, Dec 16 (Reuters) - Retail sales in Brazil rose unexpectedly in October, helped by a recovery for supermarkets and apparel, in a rare positive surprise for an economy struggling with its sharpest recession in 25 years.
Sales volumes rose a seasonally adjusted 0.6 percent from September, government statistics agency IBGE said on Wednesday, beating all 23 forecasts in a Reuters poll. The poll’s media estimate was for a decline of 1.1 percent.
Brazil’s retail sales had fallen for the previous eight straight months due to plunging consumer confidence, costly credit and the worst inflation in 12 years. Weak consumer demand in the third quarter added to a sharp contraction for Latin America’s largest economy.
However, supermarket volumes rose 1.4 percent in October from the month before, rebounding from an accumulated drop of 2.2 percent this year through September. Apparel sales increased 1.9 percent after declining an accumulated 7.3 percent in the first nine months of the year.
A broader retail index, including building supplies and auto sales, slipped 0.1 percent in October from September.
October’s retail sales fell 5.6 percent from a year earlier , much less than the poll’s median estimate of an 8.75 percent drop. Forecasts for the decline ranged from 6.5 percent to 11.6 percent. (Reporting by Brad Haynes; Editing by Dominic Evans and Lisa Von Ahn)