Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Consumer goods shortage in Russia

What kind of products are missing or difficult to acquire in Russia that yourself or others have wanted to purchase before? I know this is a weird question but any help would be greatly appreciated.


Dear Garrot!

Thank you for your question. Well, your question evoked so many childhood memories that it will be a lie to say that I want to forget those times.
Born in the USSR I witnessed only the last decade of so calledconsumer goods shortagewhich accompanied my compatriots through the history of the XX century.

The shortages were both horizontal and vertical which means that they affected both the supply of intermediate goods as well as related complementary goods. This could have involved several hours a day spent in queues just to obtain basic products like.... food.
I spent my teen years in the lines for groceries not noticing the hours go by. Like many kids of my generation I spent this time reading my favorite world classicsThus , I can say, that unwillingly the Soviet grocery shortage contributed to my general culture. ;)
It also is very important to remember that different regions of USSR had different methods of products distribution. Sometimes this regional divergence was more significant than the social one.
Some studies mention today that “those , who during the 1970—1980s were considered as Soviet Intelligentsia as well as simple employees have different memories of Soviet consumer goods shortage than those who belonged to soviet leadership families".
Through the Stalin and Khruschev times Kommunist Party leaders denied this obvious fact. But all Russian citizens knew that your life will change once you either get into the countries’ elite. You will be shopping in the“reserved to elite only” shops (a secret invention of the planned economy). Or if you have no chance to become a part of this elite, your life could be much nicer if you make friends with those who work in these shops.
No doubt this contributed to the hidden corruption in the USSR. But still the majority of Soviet population had more chances to make friends with sales staff of “closed to public” boutiques than ever have a chance to visit those shops.

Now, 25 years later, everything has changed. Like kids who waited for Christmas presents for too long our people happily enjoy consumerism. All tastes are catered.

So if someone still thinks that Russians lack anything he will live a real disillusion. Those times have gone. 

Like in any shops in Europe during any season you will find in Russian shops everything you want or dream to see. (I remember seeing our Moscow municipal house cleaner browsing on his iPhone3 a month before they were officially launched in Russia. Funny, no?)

Modern Russians are curious and open to new consumer world discoveries. Different manufactures from all over the world dream of entering the Russian market, hoping to conquer millions of new customers who will taste, use, try anything which is considered fashionable

...to such extend that only a good taste (and definitely money, which is never enough) will remain in real shortage!