Global Investing

Russians and the city: consumer led growth

Speculation is growing that new central bank governor Elvira Nabiullina will cut rates to help stimulate faltering growth soon after takes up her job later this month, but the resilience of the Russian consumer may be another important factor in giving the economy a lift.

Retail sales figures have been lower than expected for the first quarter of 2013, leading economists to revise downwards their prediction for this driver of growth, though performance in the construction and cement sectors is improving, according to Morgan Stanley research:

Overall, we estimate that household consumption growth has accounted for 65 percent of Russian growth over the last decade.

The source of this growth will come from incrementally rising incomes. Nominal wage growth has been in double digits since 2010,  according to the research, though once adjusted for inflation it fell last year by 4.2 percent versus a rise of 11.2 percent in April the previous year.

A tight labour market  is putting upward pressure on wages, though again this has been dampened due to high inflation (7.2 percent in April).

A shoe, a song and the promise of the West

I found myself at Selfridges this week, specifically in what the London retailer says is the world’s largest shoe department.

Slightly dazed by cornucopia of women’s shoes on slick display, I was roused only when the haze of muzak wafting over the PA system was suddenly dispersed by the jaunty strains of the Chinese New Year ditty ‘Gongxi Gongxi’.

A 1946 composition from Shanghai, the song has gone from classic to kitsch, evolving to become the most popular festive song in the Chinese-speaking world. Its ubiquity rests on the many — for me at least — teeth-grindingly cloying versions played all over shops and markets in Asia. (Click here for example and don’t say I didn’t warn you)

Correlations between downturn and long salon queues

Who said cosmetics are recession-proof and would be the last to be hit in the economic downturn? (I, at least, thought so.)

But whoever said so seems to be wrong. The Professional Beauty Association‘s three main tracking indices for the salon and spa industry extended a decline in the third quarter of 2011 to hit their lowest level in two years. 

The Salon & Spa Performance Index (SSPI) is a quarterly composite index that tracks the health and outlook of the U.S. salon and spa industry. It fell 1% from the second quarter to 101.9, posting the second consecutive quarterly decline.