Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo are the principal distribution centers; the largest numbers of importers, sales agents, and distributors are located in these cities, having branch offices in other areas. Other major commercial centers are Recife and Pôrto Alegre, in the northeast and the south; Belém, which serves as a distribution center for the whole Amazon River Valley; and Salvador, which is the main distribution center for Bahia and the neighboring states.
The Brazilian commercial code permits the exercise of trade by all persons who make trade their habitual occupation and register with the appropriate government body. Goods are sold in department stores, in specialty shops, by street vendors, and in supermarkets in the larger cities, but most commercial establishments have fewer than six employees. There are a number of consumer cooperatives that are generally sponsored by ministries, trade unions, and social security institutes. Producer cooperatives are found mostly in agriculture and fishing. Franchising accounts for about 25% of the retail revenues. As of 2002, about 94% of franchises were Brazilian companies, with a foreign investments primarily from the U.S. Credit is extended to higher-income customers on open accounts and to lower-income groups on installment payment plans. Since 1994, the government has been working on constitutional reforms to remove obstacles for privatization and foreign investment.
Business hours are from 8 AM to 6 PM , Monday through Friday. Banks transact business from 10 AM to 4:30 PM , Monday through Friday. In many smaller cities and towns, stores are closed for over an hour at lunchtime.
Since 1947, the advertising sector (in all the various media) has increased its expenditures many times over. Most advertising agencies maintain headquarters in São Paulo; some major agencies have branch offices in other large cities. Advertisements are presented on television and on all radio stations, with the exception of the special broadcasting system of the Ministry of Education. Newspapers, magazines, periodicals, motion pictures, billboards, posters, and electric signs are used for advertising. Mobile advertising units equipped with loudspeaker systems are common in the larger cities.