SberIndex: consumer spending climbing faster than during last pre-pandemic weeks

Apr 06, 2021

Between March 29 and April 4, 2021, consumer spending added 43.8% y-o-y. SberIndex analysts claim that spending is 5.3% higher than during the last pre-pandemic weeks (February 1 through March 15). In the food sector, the metric is 5.2% above pre-pandemic, while in the non-food sector spending is 12.6% higher. The growth rate in the service sector keeps improving. The deviation of spending volume from the trend in this segment slid to –6.1% vs –7.1% a week earlier.

The evolution of spending and its comparison to last year’s results (%, y-o-y), which is an integral part of our tracker, will be extremely hard to interpret in the next two months due to the extreme impact of the base effect. In April and May 2020, severe barrier gestures were put in place, forcing consumption to only secure the minimum volume required to keep the economy moving. For a better display of the current demand and its changes, we will temporarily introduce a comparison with the fixed period of February and the first half of March 2020 (Feb 1, 2020 — Mar 15, 2020).

Nominal change in % y-o-y without adjustments. From March 29 to April 4, 2021, consumer spending grew by 43.8% y-o-y. Non-food spending is twice as high than a year ago (+117.5% y-o-y), spending in the service sector is almost three times higher (+172.8% y-o-y). As we can see, the nominal unadjusted growth rates look impressive but are meaningless.

Changes in a relatively typical week Feb 1 through Mar 15, 2020. Consumer spending was 5.3% higher from March 29 to April 4, 2021, than the last pre-pandemic weeks. Spending in the food sector increased by 5.2%, jumping by 12.6% for non-food items.

In March, despite the unfavorable base effect, adjustment-free nominal spending increased by 2.0% y-o-y. With outliers off the table — primarily a sharp surge in demand for groceries in March 2020 — the metric added some 4.5%–4.7% y-o-y in March.

If the nominal spending of households is combined with the results of the last week (+5.3%) one can say that its growth rate is catch up with the inflation rate consistently (estimates according to Rosstat +5.8 y-o-y over the week of March 22-28).

The consumer activity index reached 70.1 points last week, which is a sign that consumers are doing fine.

When publishing this material, a reference to SberIndex (www.sberindex.ru) is mandatory.

SberIndex.ru is SberBank’s analytical portal, illustrating how life in Russia has changed during the COVID-19 pandemic. The website features four key indices based on anonymized data: an incidence model, a consumer activity index, consumer activity changes, and a tourism index. The Business section shows the evolution of gross payroll and changes in small business activity. Other studies by SberIndex lab (formerly SberData) are also available on the website.