Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Over Long Winter Vacation This Year, Russians Stayed Home and Drank Less, But Some Businesses Benefitted

Paul Goble

            Staunton, January 12 – Over the long Russian winter break which is about to end, ever fewer Russians travelled especially abroad, 40 percent of them drank less, and in general spend “the holidays on the couch,” according to a survey by RBC. But there were some bright spots: stores, restaurants and online movie supplies in Russia itself had better times than a year earlier.

            The share of Russians in major cities who travelled abroad this year fell by about 20 percent from a year earlier, and an Internet poll found that for the country as a whole, only 1.9 percent of Russians did so this year as compared to 2.9 percent last. For Muscovites, the figures were higher but also declined, from 6.3 percent to 4.6 percent (rbc.ru/business/12/01/2016/5693b4ff9a79477e0c87b72b).

            Because so many Russians remained at home generally, that helped retailers to increase sales, and many Russians who did travel within the country did so to make purchases at shopping centers, where customer traffic increased by 20 percent this year over last. The greatest increases were in theaters, game centers and restaurants.

More Russians were buying televisions and refrigerators this year than last, a reflection of their spending more time at home and of the falling value of the ruble against foreign currencies.  But surveys of retailers found that in their view, people were behaving more normally than they did a year ago when the first shockwave of devaluation passed through the country.

With regard to New Year’s celebrations, Russian said they planned to spend seven percent less than last year, 29 percent said they were going to buy less expensive presents, and 40 percent said they planned to economize on spending for alcoholic beverages.  Eleven percent more than last year – 70.7 percent – said they planned to celebrate at home.

Nonetheless, some restaurants benefitted because fewer people were travelling, and so too did museums. Moscow’s Tretyakov Gallery saw a huge boost in attendance, which officials there linked to the exhibit devoted to the 150th anniversary of popular Russian artist Valentin Serov.

A third fewer people bought tickets at movie theaters this year than last, but more spent money for online movies, one way Russians could but back in spending but keep themselves entertained.

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