There was little change to the Watcom Shopping index that measures foot traffic in Moscow’s biggest malls in real time.
The index posted 440 in week 37 of this year (September 13-19), 7.9% ahead of the same week in 2020 and -3.9% down from that week in 2019, the last year of strong growth in Russia.
Mall foot traffic has been falling in recent years as it faces increasingly stiff competition from online retailers and at the same time there has been a ongoing trend for shops to become hyper-local with smaller branches that are closer to residents homes. The giant mega-malls of the noughties have given away market share to these smaller venues.
However, retail was knocked sideways in 2020 by the coronavirus (COVID-19) related lockdowns. As the chart shows, foot traffic collapsed during the lockdown that started in May, but rapidly recovered almost all the ground lost once the restrictions were removed.
In the autumn of 2020 foot traffic slowed again as a second wave of the epidemic hit, but as the authorities refused to lock the city down a second time the fall in foot traffic was less pronounced.
This year fears of a fourth wave are building and just under 800 people are still dying each day, but other than that life has more of less gone back to normal.
The index result in week 37 was on a par with all of the last four years when the competition with online retail first made itself felt.