Russian market research company GfK Rus reports that in the first half of 2013, Russians bought 24 per cent less vodka than during the same period last year, yet the decrease in spending on vodka has not come from growth.

The study shows that the main driver for the sales drop was the decrease in the frequency of purchases as well as a 9 per cent reduction in the number of vodka buyers.

According to data from the Russian Federal State Statistics Service, retail sales of vodka from January through May 2013 fell by 8.9 per cent, compared to the same period last year, to 57.9 million decaliters. Vodka production for this period dropped by 28.3 per cent.

However, the study reports that sales figures were virtually stable, increasing by 4 per cent compared to last year, a situation linked to the excise hike and the corresponding price increase for the product.

As members of the Association of Retail Trade Companies told Prime news agency earlier, the higher excise on vodka spirits is causing a significant decrease in the number of bottles sold, but because the price has risen, retailers have not lost money.

The studies show that the only growing format in the category remains the 0.375 liter packaging, sales of which have increased naturally by nearly 8 per cent.

"But this trend seems to be a short-term one, resulting from consumers’ immediate reaction to the rising prices," GfK Rus adds.

The Federal Service for Alcohol Market Regulation is presenting the idea of calculating the price of a bottle of vodka that is between 0.375 liter and 0.5 liter based on the price of a half-liter bottle.

The study’s findings reveal that consumers are showing interest in other alcohol categories; in particular, the whiskey market continues to actively evolve. The proportion of whiskey buyers rose 1.5 per cent, and the category volume jumped by nearly a third.

First published in Russian by RIA Novosti news agency

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