SAO PAULO, Sept 29 (Reuters) - Brazilian supermarket sales rose 1.7 percent in August from the same month a year ago, with signs consumers are spending more on food, according to a statement from industry group Abras on Thursday.
Sales fell 2.65 percent in August from July. From January through August, the rise was 0.8 percent, better than previously expected by the industry.
"The sales index shows the economy is improving," said Marcio Milan, executive at the industry group Abras. Earlier this year, Abras had said it expected supermarket sales to drop 1.8 percent in 2016, marking the second consecutive annual contraction since at least 2001.
The Abras national sales index compiles data from 2,800 outlets representing about 130 companies that account for 60 percent of supermarket sales in Brazil.
Brazil's food retailing and convenience store industry had sales of 316 billion reais ($97.50 billion) in 2015, according to Abras.
$1 = 3.2410 Brazilian reais Reporting by Ana Mano; Editing by Marguerita Choy