By Christine Murray
MEXICO CITY Jan 21 Mexican retail sales at stores open at least a year will rise 1.7 percent this year after barely rising in 2013, the country's biggest retail trade body said on Tuesday.
ANTAD, which represents retailers including major supermarket chains Wal-Mart de Mexico and SORIANA , said total sales, including those from new stores, could rise by 6.1 percent in 2014.
In 2013, sales at stores open for more than a year grew 0.1 percent, widely missing the 5 percent expected by ANTAD last January.
Sales last year were hurt by delayed public spending by the new government, which took the reins at the end of 2012, as well as natural disasters and protests in some parts of the country, the trade group said.
Mexico hopes its ambitious reform agenda, which seeks to modernize a wide variety of sectors from telecoms and energy to education, will begin to pay off after lackluster economic performance in 2013. The government forecasts gross domestic product growth of nearly four percent this year.
Though stronger domestic demand will be crucial to support a nascent recovery, consumer confidence in Latin America's No. 2 economy fell to its lowest level in more than two and a half years in December, according to official data.
Comercial Mexicana, the country's fourth-largest supermarket chain, said on Friday it is considering putting itself up for sale.
The company has handled a consumer spending downturn in Mexico better its three larger rivals Wal-Mart de Mexico, Organizacion Soriana and Chedraui.