After its traditional International Women’s spike on March 8 at 501, the Watcom shopping index, which makes use of security cameras in malls to measure foot traffic in real-time has not dropped seriously and stayed at 464 during the month, bne Intellinews reports.
The index has been down over the last three years. However, this year’s results are a little different from those in 2019 and 2018. Overall the foot traffic in the leading malls in the capital has been trending down as more and more Russian shops online and so far this year is no different; the results post-holiday weekend shopping this year are almost identical to those of last year, the news website writes.
However, experts are confident that both the index and retail turnover will fall more steeply from here as the coronavirus crisis reaches its true scale. The recent rise in real incomes as president Putin’s national projects get underway was supporting consumption in the last quarter of 2019 and spilled over into January this year.
But the double whammy of collapsing oil prices and the growing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic will clearly hurt the Russian economy. The expected 1.7% growth for this year will now turn into a 1.3% contraction, according to the latest forecast by the Washington-based Institute of International Finance (IIF).
The full impact of the virus in Russia is hard to estimate, bne Intellinews writes. Russia has suspiciously low numbers of infection compared to its neighbors and while the epidemic in the country is only just getting underway there are already allegations the authorities are under-reporting the number of cases in order to be able to hold a referendum on constitutional reforms proposed by Russian President Vladimir Putin that are slated for April 22.
The authorities have taken some precautions, but most of the measures introduced so far are for an economic aid package for businesses like the oil industry, tourism, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and airlines. None of the major cities are on lockdown, although rumors continue to swirl that Moscow could be put in quarantine any day.