Continued economic slump exhausts Russians

Russians are now saving money on new clothes, electronics and vacations.

Russians are now saving money on new clothes, electronics and vacations.

Said Tsarnaev/RIA Novosti
A recently-conducted survey indicates that consumers in Russia are at their gloomiest level in 11 years, with disposable incomes drying up and many people unable to afford a vacation.

Russian consumers are more negative about their economic prospects than they have been for the past 11 years, new data from a recently conducted survey shows.

The Nielsen Consumer Confidence Trend Tracker, a data visualization survey that shows how consumer sentiments about the state of the economy change, has seen Russia reach its lowest score of 63 points in the first quarter of 2016. In comparison, during the last crisis in 2009, the index score was 75 points.

The survey shows that a total of 18 percent of Russians no longer have any disposable income. During the 2009 crisis, that percentage was between 4 to 7 percent. The population is now saving money by not spending on new clothes, electronics and vacations, with 70 percent of the people who responded to the survey saying they do not believe that the situation will improve.

"Exhaustion – this is the word that can be used to characterize Russian consumers today," said Marina Lapenkova, director of Global Clients at Nielson Russia, adding that the forthcoming summer provides Russians with little cause for optimism.

"With the lack of accessible alternatives, Russians will either not go on vacation or will choose uninspiring solutions," she said.

Compared to the same period last year, interest among Russians in taking a summer vacation abroad in February 2016 declined by 3 %, and in a domestic vacation by 16 % (Russian Tour Operator Association data).

Leading the demand for domestic vacations are resorts in the Krasnodar Territory, Crimea and St. Petersburg; and for vacations abroad, favoured destinations are Cyprus, Greece, Spain and Montenegro. The share of Russians economising on their vacations has increased in one year to 31 percent, by one point, according to Nielsen.

Dilyara Ibragimova, professor of economic sociology at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow, says that the current state of consumer activity is different from the one during the 2008-2009 crisis, because of its prolonged pessimistic mood.

"During the difficult year of 2015 the mood was unhappy. However, a series of social-political events supporting the patriotic spirit helped create a positive impact on the perception of the future," she explained. "Today these factors have disappeared and exhaustion from the harsh economy, in which consumers have been living for a year, is growing."

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