Russia faced the pandemic by imposing small-scale lockdowns, limiting travel to foreign countries to its citizens and by developing and distributing its own vaccine. The result: since February 2021 the pandemic has (almost) been left behind. What effects did that have on the retail segment? Seen that Russian citizens are unable to travel abroad, they increased spending inside the country. Online sales did also increase, but not to the levels they did elsewhere, where stores remain closed for longer periods of time.
And so, imported goods from Italy lost some ground, but not too much. For many Italian brands Russia represented the third most important export outlet, and the first destination in terms of ease of access, better than the USA and China.
Made in Italy
“In Europe, Russia is the country that buyers the most Italian products, specifically when talking about fashion and luxury goods”, Fashion Magazine Antonio Fallico, president of Banca Intesa Russia and of the Associazione Conoscere Eurasia. Riccardo Tortato, head of purchasing and director of menswear of TSUM (in Moscow) and DLT (in Saint Petersburg), both very large shopping centers in Russia, confirms the resiliency of the internal market. He cites Loro Piana, Brunello Cucinelli, Bottega Veneta, Dolce & Gabbana, Valentino and TheAttico as luxury brands that have the best performances.
“Made in Italy has always had absolute value. Many French brands even write “Made in Italy” on their labels as a guarantee of quality that is well known, even and if not more, in Russia”, claims Mr. Tortato. He observes how, thanks to the chances provided, Russian buyers were able to travel to Italy for 5-days business trips, so that the could purchase what they needed.
A decrease, without a crack
“The medium-high segment didn’t suffer too much, while the medium one felt the crisis”, points out Arturo Venanzi, head of the Russia Laboratory and CSI for Assocalzaturifici. “Some brands even manage to increase their turnover – he continues -, even though, generally speaking, sales did decrease, but didn’t crack”. The export value of the Italian footwear segment in 2020 lost 17.6%. France, the USA and UK did worse, for example.
“I believe that, by September 2021, we will see a recovery for business done in Russia, but we will need to wait until 2022 to return to pre-pandemic levels or even surpass them. Of course, if the pandemic allows it”, he concludes. “Russian fashion? Sneakers, and more. Contemporary footwear with rubber soles are important, also because consumers can go to stores to buy them, instead of being limited to purchase them online, where sneakers reign. Leather soles and heels have marginal roles as of today”.
- Obuv confirms that heels are no longer a trend in Russia, bags are
- Russia 2020: fake is worth 2.75 billion euros, 30% of sneakers are fake