Rouble’s drop drives Russian sales surge

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The falling value of the rouble has Russians desperately seeking big ticket items to buy, with cars featuring heavily on their shopping lists.

They want to lock in the value of their money before it drops further in an unstable economic climate.

As the Russian currency became worth less and less prices shot up and the sold signs appeared on windscreens.

Vladimir Ryabushko, who is in charge of Moscow’s ‘Avtomir’ car dealership said: “As we see the situation prices will continue to rise. And new shipments of cars will arrive at new prices. For better or worse, right now we can’t know by how much they are going to rise. But I would advise people to buy a car now because the prices are going to go up more.”

But that was easier said than done .. as some carmakers, including General Motors and Land Rover-Jaguar halted delivery of vehicles to Russia until the situation stabilises.

There were signs it might be doing that on Friday as the rouble picked up a little bit against the dollar and the euro, though trading remained thin and volatile.

Analysts said a strengthening rouble would mean ordinary Russians would stop trying to buy foreign currency, not that there is much available in the banks.

On the streets of Moscow some were not that bothered.

An older man said: “We’ve lived through a lot of things, so in comparison with what we’ve been through in the past 25 years it is not very significant.”

But one prospective shopper was unhappy, saying: “It’s very bad that appliances have become so much more expensive. I won’t be able to buy the things I wanted to. I’m sad.”

But for the Russian government and central bank it is much more than the inconvenience of not being able to buy imported gadgets as they try to find ways to stop the economy sliding into recession.

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