A Moscow shopping mall is as crowded as any other at this time of year, but many people are taking some drastic belt-tightening measures in the face of the country’s worsening economic crisis.
Sparked by western sanctions and the worst rouble collapse in years, inflation has risen above 10 per cent.
Despite the holiday crowds, the tills remain quiet.
“This year I am trying to make more hand-made gifts, everyone is pleased and happy because I’m more creative than last year. When there’s money there is less creativity, you go to the shops and choose what looks attractive to you. When there isn’t any money then you think, you use your imagination, you’re creative,” said a shopper named Pavel.
The Russian government has forecast a sharp recession for next year.
Finance Minister Anton Siluanov told journalists on Friday the economy could shrink by 4 percent in 2015, its first contraction since 2009, if oil prices averaged their current level.
The government has moved to shore up key banks and address the currency crisis as the rouble continues to plummet.
“It’ll hit us hard because we are travelling to Europe and everything is getting more expensive because of the (exchange rate crisis). We will do all of our shopping there and now we are just buying necessities for the winter to avoid being cold,” said Anastasia, another shopper.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has called off New Year’s holidays for government ministers of the country’s unfolding economic crisis.
The main festivities have yet to come in Russia, with the huge New Year celebration followed by the Orthodox Christmas.
Street theatre performers dressed in white staged an “Angels Parade” in Moscow to entertain onlookers as part of the “Journey to Christmas” festival, which is being held across the city.
The government could be forgiven for looking to the heavens to save the failing economy.