Coronavirus (COVID-19): latest updates from Russia

Date : 26 March 2020

Amin Alkhatib

Senior Retail Analyst

In reaction to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Russian retailers and the government have started implementing several measures to slow the spread of infection.

All non-essential stores in Moscow will temporarily close

Moscow’s mayor announced measures to restrict the movement of people in the city by closing non-food stores, cafes and shopping malls for one week. The closures will begin on the week commencing 28 March, but pharmacies, drugstores and grocery retailers will be able to remain open.

The government announced measures will be put in place to support small and medium sized businesses, such as the deferral of business tax and more favourable lending conditions.

Prioritising the elderly and vulnerable

X5’s Pyaterochka is allocating priority shopping hours for the elderly in its stores in Moscow. This dedicated period will be on Monday and Thursday from the opening of the nearest Pyaterochka until 10.00. The retailer looks to help them to purchase essential goods in an environment with less risk to their health.

Re-employing staff from other businesses

Russia’s second biggest retailer, Magnit, will temporarily employ staff from Burger King, KFC and Chocolatiers. Fast food and café chains have agreed to temporarily place their staff in Magnit stores once they are asked to suspend operation by the government.

The staff will retain their jobs in the fast food chain and obtain a fixed-term employment contract with the retailer. Magnit expects to employ 2,650 staff across 20 cities and around 650 in Moscow during the quarantine, to help with shelf replenishment and sales floor service.

Restaurants and cafes suffer from fall in footfall

The Federation of Restaurateurs and Hoteliers (FRIO) reported that since the beginning of March restaurants’ revenues dropped by between 30% and 60%, with some closing. Some are countering the loss of trade by looking for additional distribution channels, such as online. Cafes and restaurants are having to manoeuvre around the recent government request to close their businesses for one week.

Food-to-go establishments in Moscow shift to online channel

Due to the drop in footfall to their establishments, restaurants and cafes already started shifting their business focus from walk-in customers to online delivery. This is a boost for delivery companies, such as Yandex and Delivery Club, who have both received an increasing number of requests from restaurants to connect to their food delivery platforms. Yandex.Eda (Yandex.Food) and Yandex.Lavka (Yandex.Shop) reported a six-fold increase in the number of requests in March so far.

Yandex consolidates delivery and taxi services into one app

Yandex.Taxi updated its app to include its services for food-to-go, Yandex.Eda, for groceries, Yandex.Lavka and for parcel deliveries from the marketplace. This is part of its initiative to consolidate all the services in one app, by developing a ‘superapp’ - a single window for many services based around the taxi application.

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