For the first time in eight months, Russian consumers' confidence has stabilized after posting significant declines, according to Nielsen's ongoing "Russians through Crisis" study. In the second half of 2008, consumer confidence stood at 104, dropping to 88 in November 2008 and hitting a low of 75 in March 2009. In May, confidence recorded an uptick to 82.
As with consumers around the world, job security and personal finances are the key concerns for Russians today. Almost three-quarters of those surveyed characterized the security of their jobs as "not so good" or "bad," while 81 percent characterized their personal finances the same way. While these results were not positive, they showed no further signs of pessimism over previous months. More than half (54%) of Russians said that their family income has declined over the past three months. Given these sentiments, it is not surprising that 78 percent of Russians felt that it was not a good time to buy the items they want or need. Discount and hypermarket retailers were the preferred destinations for Russian shoppers, as they switch to channels that can provide better value.
"Russian consumers seem to have overcome the shock of discovering that one of the world's fastest growing economies is not recession-proof. Consumer confidence is bottoming out, but the key question remains the duration of the bottom and when Russians will be ready to loosen their belts," said Dwight Watson, managing director, Nielsen Russia.
Summer seems to be the season of optimism for Russians, with 19 percent of respondents saying they plan to by a travelling tour, and equal number saying they plan to purchase furniture. Computers and mobile phones were the next most popular items for purchase. Meanwhile, 37 percent of those surveyed said that they had no plans to make any major purchases.
"Russians through Crisis" is an integrated research project aimed at tracking and analyzing consumer confidence and purchasing behavior in the rapidly changing Russian economic environment. More than 500 people were surveyed in key Russian cities, including Moscow, St. Petersburg, Novosibirsk and Nizhiniy Novograd.