Falling retail sales to reduce assortment of products in medium and high price segment
According to the National Statistics Committee, retail trade turnover in Belarus decreased by 3.5% in January-October 2016. The negative trend was due to the fall in real wages by 4.1% and the growth in utility costs. Retail trade turnover is likely to continue to reduce against the background of eroding household savings. Major retail chains may rearrange available space in order to attract new tenants from other consumer market segments and layoff some administrative and technical staff. New shopping facilities are likely to open only in the regions with high wages. Given the expected decline in the average ticket at shopping sites, assortment of products in the high and medium price group is likely to reduce and some costly goods may disappear from the shelves of retailers.
President Lukashenka has met with the head of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov, who visited Minsk and the Minsk Automobile Plant. Minsk has always sought to have independent links with Russian regional elites, partially, to compensate for the Kremlin's diminishing interest in Belarus. In recent years, Belarus’ contacts with the Russian regions have been extremely intense. However, with some leaders of Russian regions, primarily heads of large republics, communication was more difficult to build. As many analysts in Minsk suggested, Minsk could regard contacts between President Lukashenka and the head of Chechnya as an additional communication channel for relieving tension in relations with the Kremlin. However, most likely, a trusting relationship with Kadyrov is a value for Minsk as such, provided Kadyrov’s broad business and political interests, and a high degree of autonomy for the Chechen leader from the Kremlin.