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Muscovites Refuse Pre-Holiday Shopping: A Marketer Explained The Trend

While Europeans sweep Christmas gifts off the shelves, disregarding social distance, our citizens are just looking at festive display windows. It seems to be understandable: Catholic Christmas is on the nose, and there are still a dozen days before the New Year. However, this is not the only explanation for the lack of pre-holiday excitement not only in the provinces, but also in Moscow. There are catastrophically few people going to stores, even just to ask the price, says marketer Marina Prokina. This was not even the case in the hungry 1990s.
An unusual situation for Moscow: from December 21 to December 30, transport workers expect not an increase in the traffic flow (with a peak on the 27-28), but, on the contrary, its smooth decrease. The “fault” is the cancellation of entertainment events, the new habit of Muscovites to shop in stores near their home and via the Internet, as well as the fear of catching the coronavirus.

Metropolitan merchants, as they can, create a New Year mood. But they do it badly. For a long time people do not believe in “grandiose discounts” on clothes and equipment, realizing that after New Year’s Eve the price will most likely become even lower. Last year’s product is automatically considered stale …

The coronavirus crisis hit the incomes of Russians very hard. The consumer behavior of people during the pandemic has changed dramatically, – says Marina Prokina, associate professor of the Moscow International Higher School of Business (MIRBIS). – Sales in general fell sharply; “Optional” gifts, souvenirs are almost never bought. And in general – catastrophically few people go to shops, even just to ask the price – I think, two times less than usual. The first “bell” was a sharp decline in the number of purchases on Black Friday, and the size of the check itself was much lower. If earlier we still reacted to discounts, now we are not looking at the inscription “cheap”, but carefully checking the cost of goods. People began to
But in the crisis of 2008-2009, 2014, people did not seem to save on New Year’s celebration …

And now they save. I can see it for sure. Moreover, even those who did not lose in income began to more selectively approach purchases.

Maybe citizens have switched to online commerce?

Online the same problems. Even taking into account the rapid growth of this segment, there is no usual surge in sales for the traditional holiday set: food, sweets, toys, champagne, souvenirs in honor of the symbol of the coming year. The decrease in interest in shopping is due to the fact that the New Year will be problematic for many families. In Russia, there are no explicit prohibitions, as in Italy, when companies cannot gather more than six people. And all the same, people deliberately refuse large meetings, large feasts. A lot of people are scared, and this feeling overlaps with purchasing power.

When to expect the peak of sales?

Historically, people went to the grocery stores in droves in the last week before the New Year, to ordinary stores early. On December 20, there were always crowds of people in shopping malls, communication salons, jewelry stores, and other specialized stores. And now it is not, this peak.

Virologists fear that non-observance of social distance in public places could lead to an outbreak of coronavirus in early January. Sergei Sobyanin asked pensioners to be careful when visiting shops on the days before the holidays. Are store staff obliged to enforce social distancing?

No, I have never seen anything like this, although now I go shopping a lot out of professional interest in order to assess the market situation. It is only required that buyers wear masks and gloves.

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