Russian mobile phone sales dropped 14 percent during the first eight months of the year, according to figures published by the Russian retail chain Yevroset, the Moscow Times reported Monday. The drop in sales was a result of a weakened ruble and decreased consumer spending power, and sales will continue to dip in the future, according to Yevroset.
The 14 percent decrease meant Russians bought 23 million mobile phones from January through August, down 4 million from the same period in 2014. The dip in mobile sales is the latest example of how Russia's struggling economy has continued to affect average Russians and their consumer spending power.
Russia's economy has seen a sinking currency and rising poverty rates since the United States and several European nations instituted sanctions on Russia in March 2014 following its annexation of the Crimean Peninsula. Russia instituted retaliatory sanctions soon after, and the market isolation has contributed greatly to its economic slowdown.
Sanctions are not the only factor contributing to Russia's struggling economy. A sharp dip in the price of crude oil has also sunk the ruble, as Russia has historically been a large exporter of oil. "Sentiment toward the ruble remains bearish due to the prospect of a prolonged recession caused by lower oil prices,” Piotr Matys, a strategist at Rabobank in London, told Bloomberg News Monday.
A weak ruble, down 45% against the dollar, has in turn caused multiple difficulties for average Russians, including the mounting cost of healthcare. A recent article in the Wall Street Journal reported that the cost of several lifesaving medicines has gone up greatly over the past year because of sanctions from European nations that used to export large amounts of pharmaceuticals to Russia.
One woman who earns $300 a month as a schoolteacher in Russia told the Wall Street Journal that she could not afford to take her antistroke medication after the price went up by two thirds over the past year. “I basically haven’t taken these drugs since last year. Now I am just waiting for my symptoms to start, like dizziness,” Nizhny Novgorod told the Journal.