Admittedly, the largest year-on-year contraction in fuel sales since October 2020 was the main culprit for September’s weak retail sales reading. While part of the 8.1% annual contraction in fuel sales is certainly due to base effects, it could also indicate greater caution on the part of consumers, as recent fuel prices in the local market explain contraction to a limited extent. This pushed the fuels category toward its third sequential contraction this year.
However, although still quite weak, food and non-food products showed some pockets of resilience and even sequential accelerations, as online sales, food sales in non-specialty stores and clothing sales recovered. Thus, while the reading confirms that private consumption will continue to weigh on production, it also shows that we could be witnessing some slight adjustment in consumer behavior amid an unquestionable slowdown. The persistence of services inflation (the only major category still in double digits) could explain, at least in part, why some goods categories have performed better in the third quarter.