“Ministry of economic development has found an explanation for the anomalous deceleration of retail in February

– Slow growth of retail trade in Russia in February compared with January accelerating wage growth looks “amazing”, says the Ministry of economic development. The reason for the non-representational dynamics could be increased spending on purchases in the foreign Internet-stores and others not included in the statistics of the transaction.

“Apparently, this is due to the fact that an increasing share of consumer spending of households begin to occupy not included in the retail sales transaction (for example, cross-border e-Commerce),” reads the monthly monitoring “the economy”.

In this regard, to assess the state of consumer demand becomes more and more important indirect indicators, in particular the index of consumer sentiment, according to the monitoring. This indicator, cleared of seasonality, at the beginning of the year increased to the maximum values for the entire history of observations (104,7 104,0, and in February and March, respectively).

According to Rosstat, the growth of retail trade turnover in February slowed to 1.8% (consensus expected an increase of 2.6%) compared to 2.8% in January (dynamic yoy). In addition, the February figure was the lowest since July of last year (1.3 per cent).

The slowdown was due to non-food products (an increase of 1% in February compared to 3.3% in January), while the sales growth of food products has accelerated (2.7 percent vs. 2.2%).

Integrated assessment of the dynamics of consumer demand is not enough to only one indicator – the turnover of retail trade, as spending on final consumption and include other elements, including expenditure on catering services and purchases in foreign online stores, said the Ministry of economic development.

Information about a substantial part of online trading recorded by Rosstat: in 2017 it accounted for 1.1% of the total turnover of retail. But according to the Association of retailers, the volume of domestic e-commerce market in 2017, exceed twice the data of Rosstat (650 billion). Differences are associated with methodological features: Rosstat, for example, does not consider data on purchases on websites of private ads, explains in the monitoring.

The volume of cross-border online trade is also not taken into account by Rosstat in the retail trade. Meanwhile, the growing popularity of overseas online shopping has become one of the factors of increase of the gap in the dynamics of retail trade turnover and consumption expenditure of households.

In 2017, the growth rate of final consumption expenditure was consistently higher than the dynamics of the retail sales – because of the rapid growth in market segments that are not considered when calculating the retail trade turnover. This trend is probably preserved in the beginning of this year, which may indicate active growth in the field of consumer services, said the Ministry of economic development. For example, the turnover of the catering market in February and January grew by 3.8% and 3.9%, respectively. In January-February the increase in the volume of paid services to the population dynamics after near-zero last year. Continued increase in the volume of passenger traffic, the positive trend observed in the automotive market.

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