Retail sales down to level of 2013
According to the National Statistics Committee, in October 2014 the retail trade turnover increased by 1.7% compared with October 2013, which is the lowest growth in 2014.
These figures reflect the general downward trend in consumer spending caused by a decline in wage growth and outstripping growth in utility prices observed since July 2014. The average check in the grocery retail sector is expected to continue to decrease. Consumers might revise their spending towards increasing the share of food products. Competition between the retailers might heat up and goods from the medium price segment might be replaced with budget goods.
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.