Brazil, Argentina ride out tough holiday season

Updated: 2015-01-05 06:07

By Yang Yao in Beijing(China Daily Latin America)

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Supermercados chinos, or Chinese supermarkets, have helped locals in Argentina and Brazil revel in this year's Christmas, as the nations ride out the highest inflation rate in a decade.

Xinhua reported on Dec 23 that around 90 percent of the Christmas items in Sao Paulo are "made in China".

According to statistics, the average daily passenger flow during the holidays and Christmas Eve on 25th of March Street, a popular commercial district in Sao Paulo where people can purchase cheap made in China products, has been over 1 million. The local Chamber of Commerce expects sales to reach 17 billion BRL ($6.3 billion), an increase of 8 percent over last year.

Brazil's inflation in the month through mid-December accelerated faster than forecasts.

The demand for cheaper goods from China to satisfy people's needs during Christmas has risen, the report said.

A similar situation happened in Argentina.

The inflation rate in Argentina has reached historic highs, according to figures by members of Congress in October. Opposition legislators announced that inflation rose 2.48 percent in September, translating to a yearly rate of 41.06 percent, the highest rate since 1991. Besides high inflation, the government's policy encouraging consumption has made the situation worse.

"The yearly rate is 41.06 percent. Everyone is already suffering from higher costs for food, rent, and services," said Deputy Patricia Bullrich as she presented the latest figures.

Since 2012 when Argentina experienced fast economic development for a couple of years, the nation's economy has stagnated thereafter.

Data shows that economic growth has dropped from 8.9 percent in 2011 to 2.2 percent in 2012.

To alleviate the situation, the Argentine government has to take measures to secure price stability in the holiday market. A common measure is to sign contracts with supermarkets, promoting low-priced "holiday baskets" products to cater to the needs of the working class.

Chinese supermarkets, which dominate the second tier of grocery stores in Buenos Aires, have become an important channel for the government to stabilize prices.

According to local media, there have been more than 10,000 Chinese supermarkets with over 250 square meters of business area, and are expanding with a monthly increase of 20 new shops. In the capital renowned for its savory steak and sultry tango, Chinese supermarkets take more than 37 percent of the capital's retail market share. Food, beverage, cleaning supplies take up about 15 percent of the country's total sales.

In 2012, Guillermo Moreno, Secretary of Domestic Trade at that time, met Chen Daming, president of the Chamber of Chinese supermarkets (CASRECH), seeking the support of the Chinese supermarket industry during the Christmas holiday to supply and stabilize prices.

Moreno said the Chinese supermarket in Argentina is an important economic power, and that the Chinese supermarket with the support of government policies, can help the Argentine consumers have a well-spent Christmas.

The Chinese community is the biggest Asian immigrant group in Argentina, consisting of over 100,000 citizens, representing a ninth of the total 4.5 percent of foreign citizens living in the South American country, according to the 2010 population census.