January and February: Are these good months for business in Brazil?

Typically people are familiar with Brazilian “carnaval”, beaches and attractive summer weather.  In the northern hemisphere, we are in deep dark winter in January and February, but in Brazil it is summer sun with periodic rains depending on where you are.  Flooding and mudslides have long been a summer plague in southeastern and southern Brazil.  Still it does not rain all the time and when the sun is out the bikinis are too and the beaches are full.  It is also summer vacation.  Schools close in December and typically reopen in February and sometimes only March.  The “carnaval” this year starts on Feb. 6 but it is a floating holiday tied to the religious calendar and Lent.  Supposedly, we let it all go prior to Lent and then we are duly repentant up to the Easter resurrection celebration.  Basically, attempting to do business in Brazil in between Christmas and the of “carnaval” is a frustrating task.  It is similar to attempting find business partners in France during August vacation.  You might find people to talk and they will be cordial but it is highly likely that any important decisions will be deferred.  On this topic, it is also important to remember that on an individualistic-collectivistic continuum, the Brazilian fall toward the collective.  So although you think a person has decision making authority, he probably feels he has to run the decision by his peers and colleagues.  Of course, they also will be on vacation or awaiting the end of the festivities or perhaps shopping abroad or hitting the ski slopes in the northern hemisphere.

In summary, keep in mind that these months are great for vacationing, excellent for making initial friendly contacts and networking but highly difficult times for more complex negotiations.  Take advantage of what you can as Brazilians love to do business with friends, people they know and trust and the summer holiday is a great time to start building these personal relationships.


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