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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Moscow Shoppers Take Delight in Time of Crisis

MTWomen passing a sign advertising a 70 percent sale in the window of a shop near Sokol metro station. Such sales can currently be found all over the city.

As the effects of the world financial crisis continue to be felt, there has been an unexpected bonus for Muscovites — there are sales in clothing shops all over town.

Moscow is known for having much higher clothing prices — apart, perhaps, from in markets such as Cherkizovsky, which recently closed — than in Western Europe, never mind the United States. But things have changed in the last few months.

“There are far more sales this year than there used to be,” said Maria Kolbina, a retail analyst at VTB Capital, “Sales this year began in the spring, starting from 20 percent. In June, they reached 70 percent. It is an unprecedented thing for Moscow.”

Discounts are a direct result of the crisis, Kolbina said, as shops are seeing fewer customers and need to get rid of their over-stocked shops.

Going around the city in recent days, the sales can be seen in most shops from the high-end, where a bag from Prada now costs 20,000 rubles ($638) from 80,000 rubles ($2,552) or a Marc Jacobs bag at 13,140 rubles from 43,000 rubles. Both items offer savings of 70 percent.

“It is like a dream come true. I’m just dazzled,” said Anna, a shopper on the street of designer stores, Tretyakovsky Proyezd, her hands full of Gucci and Prada bags. She refused to give her last name.

Still, not all of the high-end shops want everyone to get an expensive bargain.

“Some of them prefer not to advertise sales, which are only made for VIP clients,” said Svetlana Titova, editor-in-chief of Rasprodaja.ru, a site whose name translates as “Sales.ru.”

Discounts are big in lower-end stores, too, such as Zara, where jeans are on sale for 1,500 ($48) rather than 3,000 rubles ($96) and H&M, where a waistcoat now at 450 rubles is half the price it used to be. Topshop has discounts of up to 70 percent until September, when its new collection arrives.

The strange idea of shops selling items at a huge discount has been met with a degree of suspicion in a country that is used to being cheated and overpriced.

“I don’t really understand why sellers show such unprecedented generosity,” said Teona, who was shopping at the Yevropeisky shopping center near the Kievskaya metro station.

Komsomolskaya Pravda in a front page story earlier this month almost suggested that it was a conspiracy by the retailers and that the discounts were invented in some cases.

“They are not sales. They are an attempt to get closer to reality. The crisis has shown what things really cost,” wrote the paper in an editorial, expressing outrage at one shop, which they rather cowardly refused to name, for pricing a fur coat at 50,000 rubles during the day and 25,000 rubles at night.

To a certain extent, Kolbina agrees about the effect of the discounts. Once you have taken them into account, she said, “prices have reached a certain parity with the prices abroad.”