Russian retail sales fall deeper, jobless rate rises in Sept

Russian retail sales fell deeper and the jobless rate slightly increased in September, official data from the state statistics service Rosstat showed on Wednesday, after the Kremlin announced its first mobilisation since World War Two.

Since September, the Kremlin has called up around 300,000 reservists for what it calls a “special military operation” in Ukraine. Hundreds of thousands have fled the country since then fearing being forced to fight in the conflict.

According to Rosstat, Russian retail sales plunged 9.8% in September in year-on-year terms after an 8.8% fall in the previous month and the jobless rate increased to 3.9% of the workforce from August’s record low of 3.8%.

Taking a cautious approach on inflation, Russia’s central bank held its key interest rate at 7.5% on Friday, warning that expectations of price rises had grown and that partial mobilisation could stoke longer-term inflation due to a shrinking labour force.

According to Rosstat, real disposable incomes extended their drop this year and fell 3.4% in the third quarter of 2022 in year-on-year terms, after an 8.9% rise in the same period of last year.