I know that the verb “reduce”, which is often followed by an object, can also be used intransitively, as dictionaries show very clearly. What I am unsure of, however, is whether “reduce” could actually be used to replace verbs like “decrease”, “fall” and “drop” in sentences such as the ones below:
The number of complaints has decreased sharply in the last quarter.
The company’s profit will probably fall 4.5 % next semester.
Domestic sales dropped 10% last year.
Foreign investment has been decreasing steadily over the last years.
The use of “reduce” in these sentences does somehow sound very strange to me, indeed it sounds wrong, but I wonder if, even if perhaps unusual, it is in any case grammatically correct.
I got a bit confused when I saw these examples in the Oxford Dictionary, to illustrate the meaning “become smaller or less in size, amount or degree”:
The number of priority homeless cases has reduced slightly.
At the same time the number of senior managers has slightly reduced.
The report says that the amount of summertime rain will increase by 20% in the west while slightly reducing in the east.
Instead the amount of the loan reduces with the depreciation of the sum lent, commonly at the rate of 4% per annum for five years.
The cover reduces from year to year as the loan amount repayable drops.
Criminal damage reports also reduced, falling from 30 in June and July to 14 in August and September.