Maximum lockdown: Sberbank’s analytical website SberIndex.ru publishes new analysis of Russians’ consumption behavior patterns between May 25 and 31, 2020

Jun 02, 2020
  • Between May 25 and 31 consumer spending adds 3% w-o-w
  • Total sales, including groceries and non-food items, at lockdown highs and stable. Last week results show 1.6% increase y-o-y
  • Consumer spending in May 16.8% lower y-o-y compared to 26.2% y-o-y decline in April

June 2, 2020, Moscow — SberData, Sberbank’s big data analytics and procession lab, keeps working on a series of indicators to track economic processes with the shortest time lag possible.

Between May 25 and 31 consumer spending added 3% w-o-w, while the y-o-y decline decelerated to 12.6%. This is the best result since early April. Weekly growth remains stable, although modest. Gradual and stable improvements were registered through other sources of quick data. According to Evotor – an online cash register operator, a member of the Sberbank Group – the number of active POS terminals grew to 64.3% from 61.8%. The consumer activity index on Sberbank’s new analytical website, SberIndex.ru, which stands for the variety of categories of products and services in consumer baskets, increased to 63.6 from 60.6 points in the same stretch.

The change for the whole of May was –16.8% y-o-y, which is much better than the April metric of –26.2% y-o-y. The recovery in sales is already noticeable on a monthly basis as the y-o-y decline is under 2%. The decline in consumption of services remains significant with –47.6% y-o-y as compared to –57.7% in April.

In terms of categories, the best performance in May was registered across non-food items, with Department Stores (due to online commerce) and Computers and Software as undisputed leaders. Despite the generally weak start of the month, sales in the Construction and Redecoration Products category practically recovered to the level of 2019. In the services categories, some minor improvements were spotted where online communications and agency services are possible (sports, car dealers; cafes, restaurants, traditional vendors of clothes and footwear to a lesser extent). The gradual removal of restrictions in cities will be the next significant step that can support the recovery.

Last week, official sources also published their data on consumer spending in April. The general change coincided with the forecasts that had been made after the first two lockdown weeks. However, there are two major differences in the estimates.

First, Russia’s Federal Statistic Service Rosstat recorded a drop in food sales in April (–5.8% y-o-y). In our opinion, this figure has a high chance of being revised, since no evidence to prove that can be found across Sberbank’s data or other sources.

Second, the decline in the services sector, according to official figures, was more modest (–37.9% y-o-y against our estimate of –57.7% y-o-y). A significant discrepancy factor here was the difference in methodology; primarily, the greater number of types of services in our calculations (restaurants, cafes, various entertainment venues, etc.)