(Adds details on supermarkets, pharmacies)
RIO DE JANEIRO, March 13 (Reuters) - Retail sales in Brazil rose unexpectedly in January as recovering demand at supermarkets and pharmacies gave retailers reprieve after a disappointing Christmas.
Sales volumes rose a seasonally adjusted 0.8 percent in January from December, government statistics agency IBGE said on Friday, beating a median forecast for a 0.5 percent drop in a Reuters poll of economists.
Still, plunging consumer confidence, accelerating inflation and steep rate hikes are likely to keep pressure on household spending, which has sputtered after driving Brazil’s economic growth in the past decade.
Brazilian retailers laid off nearly 100,000 employees in January, according to labor ministry data, cutting costs as they bet against a swift recovery.
Supermarket sales rose 0.3 percent in January after slipping 0.2 percent in December, according to the IBGE index. Purchases of pharmaceutical and hygiene products rose 1.4 percent after a 1.1 percent drop a month earlier.
Overall, January sales volumes rose 0.6 percent from a year earlier. (Reporting by Rodrigo Viga Gaier and Pedro Fonseca; Writing by Brad Haynes; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Bernadette Baum)