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SAO PAULO, Feb 16 (Reuters) - Brazilian retail sales tumbled in December as falling consumer confidence and early promotions in a weak holiday season curbed the usual flurry of year-end shopping.
Sales volumes fell 2.7 percent from November on a seasonally adjusted basis, government statistics agency IBGE said on Tuesday, worse than the median forecast of a 2.5 percent drop in a Reuters poll of analysts.
As Brazil's annual inflation surged into double digits and unemployment jumped to its highest December rate in eight years, families scaled back purchases of electronics and home appliances for Christmas.
Retailers in Brazil are closing stores, slashing investments and laying off workers as demand slumps in the second year of a severe economic recession, which is expected to be the country's worst in more than a century.
Sales had been surprisingly strong in the prior two months, due largely to the adoption in recent years of early holiday promotions that boosted demand in November at the expense of December.
That made the monthly drop in December especially dramatic. It was steeper than the 2.5 percent fall of a year earlier and the biggest for any month since at least 2000.
December's retail sales were down 7.1 percent from a year earlier, in line with the 7.05 percent median estimate in the Reuters poll.
Reporting by Brad Haynes; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Lisa Von Ahn