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How Russians adapted to Covid-19 restrictions by changing their consumption habits and lifestyle

Not unlike the rest of the world, with the coronavirus outbreak, Russia had to take measures to slow down the spread. In spring Russians faced remote work, closure of public spaces, obligation to wear masks and gloves when in grocery stores or on public transport. The measures were especially strict in Moscow and Saint Petersburg. For some Russians, days were spent indoors, leaving only to take the trash outside.

At first, the situation was confusing, but Russians quickly adapted. Reluctant to completely distance themselves from their lifestyle, they found new and original ways to continue socialising. Moscow outdid itself, proving itself once again to be one of the world’s most comfortable cities with its emphasis on consumer services.

Flourish of Food Delivery Services

While Grocery stores chose to keep working through the lockdown, many preferred to reduce social interactions as much as possible, resulting in a boom of online shopping and contactless delivery. Retail.ru reported a significant increase in of online shopping and found out that 3-6% of Russians tried online shopping for the first time during the lockdown. Retailers had to invest in developing their own courier services while independent food-delivery companies recruited new employees to meet the increased demand.

As for dining out, the situation was disastrous for restaurants, cafes, and bars as they had to shut down. But soon many of them found ways to keep operating – even if only from the kitchen. A lot of places opened take away windows. The other popular solution was to develop their own delivery service or build partnerships with independent delivery companies that worked as agents between restaurants and consumers. Also Vkusvill, one of the biggest supermarket chains, collaborated with a number of restaurants, cafes, and independent coffee roasters to put their products on its shelves and make them available for delivery.

Growth of Online Education

Online education hit big in Russia during the lockdown. While school and university students were obliged to take their classes online, working adults did it voluntarily and with great enthusiasm. Online education partially covered the need for entertainment but its popularity was also caused by very practical reasons. Some people lost their jobs due to closure of their employers, thus online education became a way to master a new career path. The lockdown was viewed by many Russians as an opportunity to upgrade their professional value.

Providers of online education for adults responded to the trend generously, : many platforms enabled free access to some of their courses for the duration of the lockdown. People got the chance to sample online education to switch to the paid options later. Marianna Snigireva, CEO of one of the biggest online universities Netology, told Vedomosti that during lockdown Netology experienced significant growth of new users, especially in the age group of 45-54-year-olds (+104%).

Entertainment Saves the Day

During the lockdown entertainment helped people to temporarily forget the current problems and provide them with much-needed stress-relief. Entertainment ranged from streaming movies to video games and books. The Expert magazine reported that streaming services and other video platforms experienced growth by 50-100%. One of the most important Russian IT corporations Yandex shared data showing that during the lockdown users more often searched for gaming consoles and video games. The same data indicated a rise of the interest for online concerts and ideas about books to read.

Still, people missed the social part of the entertainment industry. Because of that need Russians began to organise Zoom parties playing DJ-sets and dancing together by means of video chats. Soon the same idea gave birth to online bars where users could have a drink with friends or accidental strangers with the help of the same video calling technology.

Physical and Mental Health

With the closure of gyms, thousands were left without the habitual dose and relief of physical exercise. Group outdoor sports were also banned. Luckily, gyms, sport schools, and individual fitness instructors swiftly switched to online training through Zoom and other similar platforms offering both free and paid trainings. People were able to support their much-loved gyms and instructors by paying, and gyms were able to improve brand awareness and customer loyalty by offering free classes online.

Demand for psychotherapy also increased during COVID restrictions, with Profi.ru reporting an increase by 69% during the lockdown months. Private online psychotherapy sessions were already witnessing increased demand in Russia ahead of the pandemic, and the outbreak merely accelerated its growth.

At the same time, in Moscow clinical psychologists launched a hotline to support people who feel uncomfortable because of the pandemic and the lockdown constraints.

Fashion Adapts

Just as the pandemic was harsh on fashion brands in Russia, it forced creativity and ingenuity. . Fashion brands responded differently. Some began to produce stylish multiple-use masks, others turned to lounge wear for more appropriate stay-at-home fashion – and some brands even chose to produce sanitisers.

The creativity was not limited to brands, fashion magazines, stylists and photographers all had to be innovative in how they responded. With the assistance of technology, online photoshoots quickly became a trend in both commercial and private sectors. Other creative specialists utilised online education as an additional way to earn money during the lockdown, giving lectures with their skillset.

Aftermath and Lessons Learned

Russians greeted summer with loosened restrictions. Cinemas, gyms, bars and other public spaces were populated with a new addition, masks and social distancing. Still, lockdown practices left their mark. Online shopping became a habit and kept its popularity. Taking physical training and education online has afforded people with an alternative way of thinking and opened them up to different possibilities. Post lockdown, Russians have gained a renewed appreciation for the ability to participate in sports, entertainment and socialise offline. Lockdown may have accelerated the digitalisation of many businesses, but it also reminded us of the sweeter things offline.

PHOTOS: 1 – Solskin/Getty Images, 2 – Вкусвилл/Facebook, 3 – КМ20