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Panic buying across Siberia as people fear soon being unable to afford goods

By Anna Liesowska
18 December 2014

Cars, jewellery, TVs, fur coats, and even property being snapped up with memories of 1998 crisis still fresh in the mind.

Shelves across the region have been cleared of electrical goods, fur coats and jewellery in particular with memories still fresh of the similarly grim currency problems in 1998. Picture: Komsomolskaya Pravda

Panic buying has broken out across Siberia as consumers fear they will be unable to afford goods if the deepening rouble crisis worsens.

Shelves across the region have been cleared of electrical goods, fur coats and jewellery in particular with memories still fresh of the similarly grim currency problems in 1998.

Dealers are reporting a boom in sales of expensive cars, including BMWs and Cadillacs, with some even running out of vehicles amid fears prices will rocket over the next few weeks. Some customers have been told they face a four-month wait just to buy a car.

Meanwhile banks have been inundated with customers desperate to exchange their roubles for a foreign currency, with some branches saying they have now run out of US dollars.

While retailers are experiencing great excitement with consumers desperate to buy, it does not hide the fact it has been prompted by a deepening economic emergency.

In Novosibirsk, jewellery stores are seeing a leap in the sales of expensive items with the average purchase now standing at 50,000 roubles (£535).

Evgeniya, a sales assistance in one shop, told the Siberian Times: 'Just recently five people came in and bought jewellery for that amount. But a lot of customers are buying diamonds for 100,000 to 200,000 roubles (£2,140).'

Crisis in Siberia


Crisis in Siberia

'People are sweeping down almost everything from the shelves. Mostly they are buying phones, cameras, and e-readers.' Pictures: Yug Sibiri, Instagram

Average sales of fur coats in many shops now stand at about 80,000 roubles (£857), while in Krasnoyarsk people have rushed out to buy large household appliances or expensive cameras and mobile phones.

The director of retail sales in one of the electronic stores said: 'There is a hype in our store.

'People are sweeping down almost everything from the shelves. Mostly they are buying phones, cameras, and e-readers, but more often than not they’re also taking premium goods.'

The most popular items being snapped up amid the frenzy are televisions, fridges, cookers and washing machines, with many prices already 30 per cent higher than before.

A similar picture has emerged in Omsk, where people are also desperate to get TVs and washing machines before they become unaffordable. Many car dealers in Irkutsk have almost run out of cars, with some of them even forced to temporarily stop selling.

Sergey, a BMW sales manager, said: 'We’re shocked by this demand. We’ve sold 10 cars in three hours. Our cheapest car costs 980,000 roubles (£10,500) but at the moment we’ve run out already.'

At Kia Motors in the city, about 200 cars were sold at the weekend alone.

Crisis in Siberia


Crisis in Siberia

People are buying even food, as they fear they will be unable to afford goods if the deepening rouble crisis worsens. Pictures: Baikal Media, Instagram

In Western Siberia, dealers say their main customers have been Kazakhstan residents who have been saving up their dollars to exchange into roubles, giving them more to spend.

Nadezhda Pokh, from NSC Auto, an official Cadillac dealer in Novosibirsk, said: 'They’re buying expensive models such as the Cadillac SRX and Escalade. The price tags have been fluctuating around 2million to 3.5million roubles (up to £38,000).

'We have a lot of buyers from Kazakhstan. They’re calling, emailing and coming in in person.'

Toyota dealers say they have no cars left, even the pricy Land Cruiser, which was being sold at 3.5million roubles. Customers now have to submit an application and wait for four months for their car, amid warnings the prices might still rise.

The crisis has also, unsurprisingly, sparked panic at Siberia’s banks with customers desperate to get rid of their roubles.

Crisis in Siberia


Crisis in Siberia

The crisis has also, unsurprisingly, sparked panic at Siberia’s banks with customers desperate to get rid of their roubles. Pictures: Vkontakte

Some banks in Novosibirsk have started only taking pre-orders for foreign currency, while in Krasnoyarsk – where the exchange rate for one euro has reached 120 roubles – branches stopped selling currency on Tuesday.

Anastasia, a cashier at the Asia-Pacific Bank, said: 'One girl came before the closing and asked to sell her dollars, but I had nothing.'

Ten banks on the mountainous Altai region are experiencing a major currency shortage with customers asking for much as they can in dollars or euros. It is a similar situation in Buryatia, where one employee of the Sherbank said: 'On 'Black Tuesday' all the dollars were bought! There were no dollars in Ulan-Ude in the evening. And now some banks do not sell them, fearing that people will buy all them again.'

With prices showing no signs of levelling out, wealthy Kazakhs are snapping up flats and apartments in Novosibirsk.

Meanwhile the currency crisis is also having a knock-on effect for travellers with air fares rising by 20 per cent in the space of a week. A flight from Barnaul to Moscow currently costs 8,626 roubles (£92) compared to 7,438 roubles (£79) last week.

Queue at the border between Russia and Kazakhstan.



Comments (1)

There is a big difference between the views of French and what the government says. For many French Russia one day or the other, will be a very valuable ally against Islam threatening Europe. It is quite irresponsible to try to harm him.
bourdil, Carcassonne
18/12/2014 20:27
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