Retail chains in Russia need to make it a priority to buy from Russian businesses, Industry and Trade Minister Denis Manturov said.
"Russian retail, and without unneeded intervention, has again proven its mettle as a reliable link in the Russian economy. But now retail needs to devote more attention to promoting specifically Russian goods on the domestic market, naturally on market terms without hurting competition and the economics of the distribution network," Manturov was reported as saying by his ministry after a meeting of the presidium of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (RSPP) commission for the retail and consumer market.
There is no need to completely stop importing altogether, he said. There must "certainly be" imports, "both for assortment and as a benchmark for quality," Manturov said.
The minister said he was referring primarily to non-food goods. If Russian manufacturers in this segment cannot sell their products, no measures of support will help them gain market share, he said.
"If even now retail will be guided by the principle of 'nothing personal, it's cheaper in China,' then we will never have a full-fledged consumer goods industry," Manturov said. "This will not hurt the overall amount of supply in any way, since we have made imports easier," he added.
The sector is adjusting to all the market transformations, such as changes in consumer behavior and the structure of demand, some companies' suspension of operations in Russia and the temporary permission for parallel imports, but there have not been any shortages, he said.
"Retail is quickly responding to these and other changes and there hasn't been anything close to a product shortage in a single segment," Manturov said.
In the current circumstances, retailers are only seeing a slight narrowing of product assortment in stores, the RSPP said in a statement. This concerns only 3-4% of assortment, primarily imported goods in non-food categories, as well as certain food products in the above-average and premium price segments, the RSPP said, citing data from retailers association AKORT.
The meeting of the presidium of the RSPP commission for the retail and consumer market was attended by the heads of Russia's largest retailers, including X5 Retail Group (MOEX: FIVE), Magnit (MOEX: MGNT), Mercury Retail and Lenta (MOEX: LNTA).