In an ongoing interview series, the leaders of Nielsen’s global field teams provide insights and observations on what they’re witnessing as they conduct their store audit work under the difficult conditions the COVID-19 outbreak has created.
Natalia Leksina is Retail Measurement Delivery Leader in Russia
With a relatively low number of reported cases of COVID-19 in Russia, Nielsen’s 700 auditors have largely been able to operate normally, barring the addition of face masks where individuals choose to use them.
As cases of infection continue to rise, however, and in light of Russia reporting its first death from the outbreak, consumers are racing to stock up.
Leksina says many Russian consumers still remember the times of empty stores and long queues in the 1990s and have now shifted from quietly observing the COVID-19 situation play out to begin stocking up on everything from soaps and sanitizers to alcohol, fresh meat and baby food.
She says the increase came quickly and in parallel with the devaluation of Russia’s currency, the ruble. The devaluation came amidst a standoff between Russia and Saudi Arabia over oil production levels. Retailers, however, managed to respond promptly: empty shelves were quickly refilled and prices didn’t rise above regular inflation levels.
“We foresee huge growth coming in the sales not only for ‘must-have’ crisis products, but also indulgent categories since these may become substitutes for dining out,” says Leksina.
She also says e-commerce sales are increasing significantly, and the largest e-commerce players in Russia are moving to hire more people quickly to help satisfy rising demand.