(Adds data, background) BRASILIA, Feb 14 (Reuters) - Retail sales in Brazil fell sharply in December as Christmas holiday discounts failed to bolster consumption amid a severe recession, government data showed on Tuesday. Retail sales volumes excluding cars and building materials fell 2.1 percent from November, in line with expectations in a Reuters poll, statistics agency IBGE said. It was the steepest drop in sales since January 2016. November data was also sharply revised down to show growth of 1 percent instead of the 2 percent previously reported, frustrating hopes that end-year markdowns would boost demand for electronics and home appliances. Retail sales fell 6.2 percent in 2016, their worst year in the IBGE series dating back to 2001, as Brazil weathered the second year of a recession that has left more than 12 million people unemployed. A share index tracking performance of Brazilian consumer companies, including Lojas Renner SA, Companhia Brasileira de Distribuição SA and Lojas Americanas SA, is up just 4 percent so far this year, compared with an 11 percent gain in the country's Bovespa benchmark stock market index. Retailers' revenues in the city of São Paulo, the country's most populous, fell for the 17th consecutive month in December, industry group Fecomércio-SP said earlier this month. A broader measure of retail sales, which includes automobiles and building materials, fell 0.1 percent in December from November and 8.7 percent in 2016, IBGE said. (Reporting by Silvio Cascione Editing by W Simon)
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