Services on pause: Sberbank analyzes Russians’ consumption behavior patterns between April 13 and 19, 2020

Apr 21, 2020

·         Spending in Russia down 14.5% y-o-y between April 13 and 19

·         However, w-o-w spending up for second week running; compared to April 6–12 metric up 3.9%

·         Spending surge spotted in Department Store category. Structure of changes across categories gives reasons to assume the increase is due to Easter celebrations.

 

April 21, 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 April 13 and 19 household spending on goods and services kept rebounding to add 3.9% w-o-w, while losing 14.5% y-o-y, which is largely due to the calendar factors. In 2020 Orthodox Easter was celebrated on April 19, while in 2019 it was celebrated on April 28. SberData analysts believe this accounted for 60% of the w-o-w increase.

In addition to the calendar reasons, general demand stabilization has been spotted, with only a quarter of the surveyed categories further declining w-o-w. Across all other categories, spending is average for April, whereas some categories even saw bigger spending. That said, a clear division is observed as services have been put on hold and goods accounted for all the extra spending.

As for the categories, there is a typical surge in the Department Store segment. Usually, demand grows here during the Easter week to get back to normal after the holiday. From April 13 to April 19, 2020, this category accounted for 1.1 pp of 3.9% of the total growth compared to last week. Grocery stores accounted for another 1.7 pp, which is probably also due to the religious holiday. Taking this factor into account is a hard as the celebration date always changes. However, the analysts don’t find higher spending in these categories stable.

For the second week in a row, normal sales are maintained in a large category called Repair Products (minus 2.8% y-o-y). Household appliances, electronics, and mobile devices welcome new buyers. Compared to the previous week, even the demand for airline tickets has grown symbolically (minus 89.2% y-o-y versus last week’s minus 93.7% y-o-y). Clearly, some customers wanted to take advantage of the great deals in this category. However, the transportation industry as a whole remains one of the weakest, as gasoline sales are falling, along with spending on taxis and parking.

The results prove SberData lab analysts’ assumptions that consumer demand has stalled at low levels. The occasional increase in expenses in various product categories indicates that consumers are still willing to buy. However, the structure of the changes shows that last week's surge was unstable. The end of the month is likely to be slightly weaker but without significant deterioration.