Retailers suffered the worst sales month this year in July, according to the Argentine Confederation of Medium-sized Companies. July retail sales fell 16.1% on a year-on-year basis as shoppers, already downbeat from the recession, stayed away from stores and other public places due to concern about swine flu.

Argentina has seen the highest death toll from the virus in South America and the government banned children under the age of 18 from visiting shopping malls in an attempt to prevent the virus from spreading.