Brazil supermarkets expect weaker holiday surge
* Sales of imports grow half as fast due to currency shift
* Abras association sees growth slowing from 2011 holidays
SAO PAULO Oct 30 (Reuters) - Brazilian supermarkets are likely to see a slightly weaker holiday sales bump at the end of this year, an industry group said on Wednesday, as a depreciated local currency makes imports more expensive.
Supermarket group Abras expects this year's Christmas sales to grow 14.4 percent from a year earlier, compared to an estimated 15.6 percent growth for the 2011 holidays.
Imported food sales in particular will likely grow 7 percent in the holiday season from the same period of 2011 - half the growth posted a year earlier.
The less promising holiday may dampen hopes for Brazilian supermarkets, which have largely missed out this year on swings in demand for more credit-sensitive big-ticket items.
Grupo Pão de Açúcar, Brazil's biggest retailer, whose supermarkets generate more than half of its revenue, has forecast accelerating sales growth in the fourth quarter.
Shares of Pão de Açúcar slipped 0.5 percent in Tuesday trading, while the benchmark Bovespa stock index gained 0.7 percent.
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