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.
The Belarusian authorities regard the Catholic conference as yet another international event to promote Minsk as a global negotiating platform. Minsk’s proposal to organise a meeting between the Roman-Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church is rather an image-making undertaking than a serious intention. However, the authorities could somewhat extend the opportunities for the Roman-Catholic Church in Belarus due to developing contacts with the Catholic world.
Minsk is attempting to lay out a mosaic from various international religious, political and sportive events to shape a positive image of Belarus for promoting the Helsinki 2.0 idea.
Belarus’ invitation to the head of the Holy See for a meeting with the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church should be regarded as a continuation of her foreign policy efforts in shaping Minsk’s peacekeeping image and enhancing Belarus’ international weight. The Belarusian authorities are aware that their initiative is unlikely to find supporters among the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow. In Russia, isolationist sentiments prevail.
In addition, for domestic audiences, the authorities make up for the lack of tangible economic growth with demonstrations of growth in Minsk’s authority at international level through providing a platform for religious, sportive and other dialogues.