New Year's Break Shaves 2% Off GDP

MTPeople skiing in the Vladimir region over the holiday. "Ten days of pure holiday mean 20 days of stress," Bragin says.
The extended New Year's holiday cost the economy 700 billion rubles ($28.5 billion), or about 2 percent of the gross domestic product, economists said Thursday.

Most businesses across the country shut down for the 10-day holiday, which began Dec. 30 and ran through Jan. 8, the day after Orthodox Christmas.

In addition, the regular work week got off to a slow start Wednesday, with many workers putting off their return to work until next week. Some of those who did come back found it difficult to get into the swing of things after the long break.

Vladimir Bragin, an economist at Trust Bank, said the slowdown in economic activity costs Russia dearly.

"I think that 10 days of pure holidays mean about 20 days of stress and hangovers. This is too high a price," Bragin told Russia Today television.

In comparison, the Christmas holiday in Britain costs the local economy only $1.5 billion.

Economists believe, however, that Russia's GDP doubled at the end of December, as people loaded up on presents to put under their New Year's trees.

While $28.5 billion in lost productivity may seem like a lot, Alfa Bank economist Natalya Orlova dismissed it as a fact of life.

"This is just a fact to take into account. World banks, for example, have to take into account that in January the number of transactions in general is much lower, and as a result more employees can take vacation in January," Orlova said on Russia Today.

With the 10-day break for New Year's and Christmas and a series of other public holidays, Russians get at least 120 days off work each year, including weekends, the television channel said.