Retailers brace for sales slowdown

Supermarkets warn sales will fall 30% as the economic crisis spreads to the public. Sales of no-frills products and alcohol, however, are holding up.

Vladislav Levchugov, CEO of Lama Group, owns 35 grocery stores, bread and meat factories in Siberia. As customers start cutting back, he's stopped new projects.

“We've halted construction on three of our four new stores, the fourth's just too far down the line to stop. By January we expect retail sales to fall 30%.”

In some EU nations the top supermarket chains have 80% market share, in Russia small independent shops hold 80%.

Small retailers, part of the Union of Independent Retailers, have met in Moscow to map a way out of the crisis, and Andrey Kholopv, from the Union says sales of some goods, remain strong.

“People have shifted to cheap food. Premium sales have stopped. But alcohol always sells well in Russia, and its popularity could grow in the crisis.”

Moscow shoppers are already finding shelves empty. Suppliers are refusing to stock supermarkets because they're not paying debts.  The government is now forcing Russian banks to give food stores loans.

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