These photos show what shopping in Russia is like among closed stores and deserted malls
Abby WallaceApr 4, 2022, 21:20 IST
Russia is full of closed store fronts and deserted shopping malls after firms have suspended operations in the weeks after the country's attack on Ukraine.
A number of retail giants announced they would pause sales and close stores in Russia in the week after the invasion on February 24, including H&M Group, Disney, and IKEA.
Other companies had to abandon initial plans to keep stores open. Uniqlo's CEO promised to keep stores operational, but closed them only days later, citing "operational challenges and the worsening of the conflict situation."
Other big-name outlets are still doing business due to complex franchise agreements with third-party operators...
Burger King's parent company, Restaurant Brands International, said it wanted to close stores but could not unilaterally suspend operations, which the main operator "refused" to do, according to a letter sent to staff.
The local operator later told the BBC that he did not have the "authority or power" to halt operations in Russia. Restaurant Brands International did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.
Some McDonald's chains are also subject to franchise agreements. The fast food giant owns a majority of its Russian stores, meaning most have closed in line with the company's withdrawal from Russia...
... While others are still operational. Some people have been flogging McDonald's goods — including food items, packaging and sauces — online. On Monday, someone posted on the classified-ads website Avito offering McDonald's food delivery for around 1,000 rubles, or $12.
Others queued to buy meals before a number of the stores closed. On Reddit, one user posted a video of a traffic jam waiting outside a McDonald's branch, while another uploaded an image of a fridge stockpiled with McDonald's food.
Starbucks also halted sales and closed stores in Russia on March 8. Starbucks syrups were being sold on Avito for 2,500 rubles, or around $30, while coffee was going for 5,000 rubles, or almost $60.
Other chains, including French retail giant Auchan, said they would keep stores open, despite calls from authorities in Ukraine to withdraw. Auchan's CEO recently told Le Journal du Dimanche that its mission was to "feed the populations," of Russia and Ukraine. A representative for Auchan did not respond to Insider's request for comment when approach on LinkedIn.
Sports giant Decathlon — which shares the same parent company as Auchan — recently reversed a decision to keep stores running, citing "supply conditions" which had forced the retailer to halt operations.
Decathlon stores shut up shop and looked empty only a few days after shoppers were pictured making purchases in its stores.
Danish homeware store JYSK announced on March 30 that it would pull out of Russia entirely after temporarily suspending sales for around a month.
The store said it would reopen temporarily on March 31 to sell discontinued items before closing permanently.
In grocery stores, images of empty shelves emerged as financial sanctions designed to cut Russia off from the global financial system stunted trade and a number of shipping companies withdrew.
Sanitary products, coffee capsules, and diapers have been sought after in recent weeks as several international firms pulled out, according to Bloomberg.
Russians leaders have urged people not to panic buy, but videos circulating online show people grappling for packets of sugar, multiple outlets reported.