Shoppers snap up posh food

Russians have traditionally given each other food and drink, particularly during the New Year and Christmas holiday. And even in the face of competition from cosmetics and electronics, food remains a popular gift.

In Soviet times a box of candies, a bottle of champagne and a tin of caviar were considered a good gift both for relatives and bosses.

The fashion has continued to the present day, despite other items making their way into the Christmas shopping mix. According to research by Deloitte, almost 30% of respondents living in Russia's large cities plan to buy food as a gift this year – ranking second only to cosmetics and perfume with 43%.

French luxury food retailer Hediard specialises in gastronomic presents.  It says its Moscow store, which opened in 2005, already has the second-biggest turnover of its more than 200 Hediard outlets worldwide.

General Director of Hediard in Russia, Lyubov Borodina, says business is booming.

“The number of our clients has doubled in the time since we opened the store in Moscow. At that time only those who travelled a lot, to France in particular, were acquainted with the brand,” Borodina said.

The Moscow Hediard – more a gourmet boutique than a store – serves about 500 people each day. 

The attraction of product freshness for gift-buyers has prompted a shift from a boutique format to gourmet shops across the sector.

Currently there are about a dozen retailers operating in the food gift market in Russia.  With most of them having impressive expansion plans and many people making gifts of the finest gourmet foods presented in style, and old tradition looks set to continue well into the future.