Brazilian supermarkets spent R$2.178bn (US$865.9m) on upgrading their stores between 1994 and 2001.

According to Gazeta Mercantil, the investment has revolutionised customer relations. Shorter checkout queues, debit and credit card facilities and faster stock replenishments are the main advantages for customers.

Suppliers have also devoted resources to upgrade packaging to include bar codes, for example. They have also linked up via the Internet to exchange electronic data with retail customers.

Investment this year is expected to exceed R$110m, says the Brazilian Supermarket Association ABRAS.