Almost half of Russians (45%) believe the “worst is yet to come” for them as the crisis unwinds, according to the state owned pollster, the Russian Public Opinion Research Centre (VTsIOM).
Russia’s economy is recovering from its two-year recession and GDP growth is gathering momentum, putting in 3.1% growth year-on-year in May. Industrial production is recovering too, up 3.5% in June y/y, and even real incomes are rising, up 3.8% in June y/y. But it seems little of this has filtered down to the man in the street, whose real disposable income – the cash people actually have to spend – is still falling, down 7.6% in April, the last data available. Retail sales have recovered, but with an anemic growth of only 1% in June, while the Watcom shopping index, that measures footfalls in Moscow’s leading malls, is having its worst results in three years in the first half of this year.
However, Russians are not entirely pessimistic. Those with a positive outlook on life and a positive view of the situation in the country were at 78% and 65% of the respondents respectively, according to VTsIOM – both significantly higher than last year when Russia was in the depths of the “silent crisis” (68% and 46% in June 2016).
Those with a negative outlook and negative view on the situation in the country were 19% and 31% respectively (30% and 39% last year).
In general, the young (88%) and people with high incomes (96%) were more upbeat with a positive outlook, while those over 60 years and older (71%) and the poor (47%) were the least optimistic.
However, the people are still worried. Answering the question “is the country facing its the most difficult times, or are these still ahead?” 45% of Russians believe the hardest part is yet to come. According to another 27% of the respondents, the worst is over, and 21% of respondents suggested that the most difficult times the country is going through are now.