Brazil services activity grows in May, exceeds pre-pandemic levels

FILE PHOTO: COVID-19 pandemic in Rio de Janeiro
FILE PHOTO: People gather in a bar after Rio de Janeiro City Hall allowed bars and restaurants to open without hour restrictions, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil May 13, 2021. REUTERS/Pilar Olivares

July 13, 2021

SAO PAULO (Reuters) – Brazil’s services sector continued its upward trajectory in May, showing record growth that was 0.2% higher than pre-pandemic levels, according to data released on Tuesday.

The sector grew 23.0 percent from May 2020, statistics agency IBGE said. Economists had forecast a median rise of 22.6 percent in a Reuters poll.

Services activity rose 1.2 percent from April after seasonal adjustments.

Still, the sector remains below the levels seen in February of this year, just before a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic led to new economic restrictions in March.

“In April and May, those measures began to relax and the sector grew again,” said Rodrigo Lobo, who leads the IBGE survey. “The sector is growing as a result of more vaccination, especially those (companies) that depend on in-person consumption.”

Growth, however, did not reach all corners of the services sector in May. The IBGE survey tracks five service activities and registered growth in three of them: transportation, tourism and family services.

Growth was highest in the tourism sector, up 18% in May compared with April. But tourism also remains 53% below pre-pandemic levels, according to the survey.

Negative rates were registered in IT services and communications.

(Reporting by Camila Moreyra and Rodrigo Viga Gaier; Editing by Dan Grebler)