Shopping in Brazil

The country of Havaianas and Biquínis is not as well-known for its spending power as the label-hungry hoards of Hong-Kong, Beijing and New Dehli in the other BRIC economies. Even less developed Latin American nations, such as Colombia and Peru, consider shopping a sport second-nature to their hungry middle-classes, yet the wealthier bastions of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro have not embraced consumerism as strongly.
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The phenomenon of the mega metropolitan mall—the one-stop consumer paradise teeming with preening adolescents and pram-wheeling mothers—is relatively rare in Brazilian city centres. There are malls here and there yes, but they are the pathetic sickly cousins of their gleaming counterparts in Bogotá and Lima. 

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But if you do find yourself aching to spend those extra reais in Rio or São Paulo the lack of malls should not be a hindrance. Maybe because the mall is still a rarity the shopping experience in Rio in particular is a refreshing change to other Latin American hubs. The corner shop is king and the independent boutique is the safe bet for snaring that local-brand beach dress and strappy sandals.
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Brazilian fashion in Rio de Janeiro is dominated by a laid-back beach-friendly style—lots of bright colours, floaty kaftans, shorts, and the ubiquitous havaianas—whereas the inland metropolis of São Paulo has a more formal cosmopolitan flavour with an emphasis on office-friendly dressing. Boutiques in Rio de Janiero stock some beautiful hand-embroidered and beaded dresses and shawls in eye-catching colours and patterns, perfect for a post-beach suntan and caiprinha. São Paulo has more runway-influenced fashion in its boutiques and also an interesting selection of Brazilian designers. Swimwear and shoes are the top draws for many Brazilian women—here at off2brazil we particularly recommend the boutique Neo Swimwear in Rio de Janeiro (http://www.neoswimwear.com/index.php) full of gorgeous hand-made swimsuits and bikini’s designed by the lovely Andrea.
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Food shopping is dominated by the street market in Brazil. There you’ll find an abundance of fresh produce, all in season and for the large part locally procured. As in other Latin American countries the range of fruit and vegetables can be astonishing to the European eye. Spices, poultry, meat and dairy products are also all to be found and for many locals the street market is a better value and better quality alternative to the few modern hypermarkets that can be found in some of the more commercial areas of the cities.
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Pharmacies can be found on every corner and stock not only medicine and healthcare products but also usually a range of snacks, drinks, and even newspapers and magazines. The best selection of household appliances and electrical goods are to be found in the two Brazilian chains Casas Bahia & Ponto Frio, everything can be found in these stores, from televisions to washing machines. Casas Bahia is also known as one of the first Brazilian brands to capitalize on the rising consumer power of the ‘pacified’ favelas. The store opened its first branch in the favela of Rocinho overlooking Ipanema beach in 2012 and made over ten times the revenue of a store in downtown São Paulo in its first day in Rocinho. Steady economic growth for the decade between 2001 and 2011 has increased the purchasing power of the poorer communities in Brazilian favelas significantly.

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The stated aim of Dilma Roussef and the federal program of Brasil Sem Miséria (Brazil without destitution) has pushed the income of thousands of families in the favelas to above the poverty line, and higher. This increase in spending power coupled with the pacification favela strategy in the lead-up to the 2014 World Cup has expanded the Brazilian ‘C Class’ enormously and attracted major businesses to the idea of cornering the favela customer market.

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However, a stop at Casas Bahia in the favela’s of Rio de Janeiro is not exactly a highpoint on the typical tourists list. If you’re looking for more unique hand-crafted purchases the art galleries and shops in Santa Teresa in Rio and Villa Magdalena in São Paulo are bursting with brazilian creations, paintings, sculptures and all kinds of knick-knacks looking to take up room on your shelves and walls back home. Precious stones also come quite cheap in Brazil, and can be a great present for any burgeoning jewellery-maker.

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In general it should be noted that prices in Brazil are higher than in other parts of Latin America, and that the hunt for a dirt-cheap locally-crafted item will not be as rewarding on the pocket as you might hope when compared to Colombia, Bolivia, or Peru. However, there are good bargains to be tracked down in certain spots—don’t hesitate to look at our city guides for more information on particular regions and handy addresses.

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A few cool Items to buy while in Brazil :
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- Havaianas flip flops (you have entire shops dedicated to them)
- The famous Carioca male swiming suit "Sunga" or female " Biquíni" (you might want to hit the gym before wearing those)
- A Brazilian flag "beach towel", yeah a bit cliché but will definitely look cool on a wall when back home and a good excuse to tell your crazy holiday stories
- Cachaҫa: Be aware that this alcohol is infamous for driving drinkers crazy! but understandably addictive...
- A Brazilian football shirt: Your nephew will be the pride of the school with an authentic Ronaldo shirt from Brazil
- Brazilian music: Do us a favour and listen to Bossa Nova, Samba and Forro if you have not already...
- Precious Stones: Cheap!
- Cavaquinho: The tiny guitar used in most Samba songs, easy to transport and a really cool gift to your guitar player cousin.

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