Sberbank analyzes Russians’ consumption behavior patterns between March 14 and 20, 2020

Mar 25, 2020
  • Russians’ expenditures keep growing fast and add 5.5% w-o-w
  • Biggest spending increase seen in Medicinal Drugs and Medical Products category, up 35.4%
  • Additional spending on groceries way up to top RUB20 bln over week
  • Share of withdrawals as usual, SberData says

March 25, 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. The lab publishes its analysis of consumer spending evolution regarding goods and services every week.

Between March 14 and 20, 2020 an even sharper increase in spending was spotted. Week-over-week, the metric jumped 5.5% despite a pretty sharp increase seen earlier, while a year-over-year increase reached 8.8%.

After a real decline by 0.3% y-o-y in Jan-Feb 2020, spending started climbing fast. Should sales stay flat over this week, real spending over the month will top 4% y-o-y, which is more than 6% y-o-y with no inflation adjustments. Retail figures are expected to grow even faster, as the lion’s share of the stronger demand accounts for goods, rather than services. However, first-quarter figures will be more precise in a week.

Analysts say additional demand structure is changing. The biggest spending increase was registered in the Medicinal Drugs and Medical Products category, which added 35.4% w-o-w between March 14 and 20. An 8.3% increase over the period was seen in the Groceries category. Seemingly unimpressive in relative terms, this is still the biggest spending category in terms of real money. According to SberData, additional spending on groceries reached at least RUB20 bln over the week.

A week earlier, Household Appliances and Electronics was one of the biggest expense items, but since March 14 the frenzy has been fading to lose 5.4% w-o-w. However, sales of gadgets are still higher than usual. In general, consumer behavior changes are losing touch with the weakening ruble and are increasingly affected by the coronavirus.

There’s now much fewer categories where demand is growing: seven vs twenty a week earlier. Even with the expenditure items that are in demand during quarantine, spending is seen as declining.

With an increased level of consumer spending, analysts have not spotted a higher demand for cash. Over the week of March 14–20, the share of withdrawals almost stayed flat, but in general, it has been steadily falling this year following a years-long trend. In absolute terms, the volume of all expenditure operations is growing, however, bank analysts are seeing no signs of people switching to cash.