Helsinki’s Stockmann department store will soon accept roubles as payment
The most well-heeled Russian tourists come from the Moscow region
By Jukka Perttu
Friends Olga Zhukova and Marina Zkharova from St. Petersburg, Russia, were doing some shopping in the department store Aleksi 13 in downtown Helsinki on Monday.
The two ladies said that they visit Finland several times a year.
“My sister actaully lives in Helsinki”, Zhukova said.
“We shop, walk around the city, and rest up a bit.” On their shopping lists they had clothes and baby food for their grandchildren. After Helsinki they would also visit Lahti.
”Here you can trust the quality, and the prices are much cheaper than in St. Petersburg”, Zkharova observed.
“I have never been disappointed with my purchases from Finland.”
The stores in central Helsinki pay a lot of attention these days to attending to the needs of their customers from Russia.
At the Stockmann department store, better service for the Russian tourists is regarded as so important that from the beginning of December the store will accept roubles as payment.
The amount of shopping the Russians do at Stockmann's is constantly increasing.
The Feminett store reports that it always has a sales person present who is fluent in Russian. The Russian shoppers bring a handsome addition to the firm’s net sales.
The most affluent Russian tourists come to Finland from the Moscow region, reveals a joint study by the Federation of Finnish Commerce and the market research company Tutkimus- ja Analysointikeskus TAK.
The visitors from Moscow had clearly more overnight stays and used more services than tourists from elsewhere in Russia.
On the other hand, they purchase less foodstuffs and goods to take back home with them.
During their trips to Finland, average Russian tourists buy first and foremost food, such as fish. The next item on the list is adult clothing, followed by kitchenware and other household articles.
Nearly 80 per cent of the Russian tourists to Finland come from the St. Petersburg area.
All told, the value of tax-free purchases by the Russian visitors grew in January-September 2012 by more than a quarter year-on-year.
The overall number of trips and overnight stays was also on a steep upward path.
The Federation of Finnish Commerce chief economist Jaana Kurjenoja warned that Tallinn and Stockholm are tough competitors when it comes to attracting travellers from Russia.
Tourism from Russia to both Estonia and Sweden has increased significantly this year.
Another more topical cause for concern are the claims according to which Finland has a tendency of wanting to separate Russian children from their parents and take them into foster care.
Kurjenoja pointed out that Russia has all sorts of ongoing disputes with Estonia, and yet tourism from Russia to Estonia is growing apace.
Politics apparently comes second to shopping and a good bargain.
Helsingin Sanomat / First published in print 23.10.2012
Previously in HS International Edition:
Overnight stays by Russian tourists up by 28 per cent in June from 2011 (17.8.2012)
Number of Russian visitors to Finland is increasing steadily (22.3.2012)
Tourism from Russia has become a billion-euro business (27.9.2011)
Finnish child welfare vs. Russian media misinformation (with some Finnish assistance) (9.10.2012)
Johan Bäckman had his own lengthy child custody court battle (19.10.2012)
Foreign Minister Tuomioja: Child care dispute overblown in both Russian and Finnish media (16.10.2012)
JUKKA PERTTU / Helsingin Sanomat