“Your first 50 right steps to enter the Russian food market”.
Step № 47 – “Holidays and days off in Russia. What for? Of course for business”
This is a very important step and if you really plan to do business in Russia, read this information very carefully. This information will help your business not to make mistakes and not to lose money because of ignorance of how business processes work in Russia during holidays and weekends.
In 99% of cases holidays are usually days off in Russia. Today I will tell you about national holidays that affect each resident of Russia. In each region of Russia (there are 85 of them) there are regional holidays and days off, but they affect only this region.
Main holidays and days off in Russia.
So, the main holidays and days off in Russia are as follows:
1.December 31 to January 10 – New Year and Christmas holidays.
Christmas in Russia is celebrated on January 7, not December 25 like in most western countries. December 25 is a usual working day in Russia.
2. February 23 – Defender of the Fatherland Day or Men’s Day. This is a celebration of men who served in the army, but usually they congratulate all men.
3. March 8 – Women’s Day. Congratulate all women. Always off.
4. May 1 – Day of spring and labor.
5. May 9 – Victory Day. The day when the USSR defeated the Nazi Germany in the Second World War. This is the most important patriotic holiday of the year, which is a very important for every Russian.
Usually the period from May 1 to May 9 is a holiday period in Russian. The second long holiday season after the New Year.
6. June 12 – Day of Russia.
7. November 4 – National Unity Day. People do not celebrate, but have a day off.
There are also religious and traditional holidays like Eid al-Adha or Nowruz, but they do not have the status of a day off throughout Russia. They are celebrated only in several regions where the majority of residents practice these specific traditions.
These holidays may fall on Saturdays and Sundays, so the number of days off may vary. Usually it only increases. Therefore, at the beginning of each year a special government memo is issued to indicate which days will be days off. This memo is important for accountants and payroll staff. According to the laws of Russia, if an employer makes employee to work on weekends, holidays or days off, it is obliged to pay double wages for these days. So, be very attentive if you have a factory or production facility in Russia and you have a lot of people working on the same day.
Let me say straight away that in Russia a day off is a “holy” day. Making someone work on such days is almost impossible. Yes, that’s true that Russians are not the most hard-working nation. Russians are ready to work for 10-12 hours on a working day, but on official days off they rest. By the way, the typical working day in Russia is 8 hours long.
Why am I writing about all these holidays and days off? Any holiday for a Russian person is a synonym of a feast or delicious food. People either go out to restaurants or cook something special at home. Food and alcohol are the essentials of any holiday. Alcohol is a part of Russian culture and alcoholic beverages will always be on a holiday table. Usually this is vodka, champagne or wine. They are the main alcoholic beverages for parties and celebrations. So, I will explain how Russian food business, the business where I am an expert, makes most on holidays.
December 31- January 10.
New Year’s holidays.
The New Year and Christmas season the most important time for earnings in Russian food business. Holidays usually last for 10+ days and all the days people drink, eat and visit each other … to drink and eat. With good planning and preparation food sales in this period of time make profits comparable with profits of a whole year. It is not a joke. Shops start buying products 1 or 2 months before the New Year. If you want benefit from this period, your products should be in stock in Russia in October or latest – November. It does not matter whether you work with a distributor or directly with retail food chains. In late November – early December, your products should already be in warehouses of your customers. Otherwise, on the New Year’s Eve you simply will not find any transport for delivery.
The main problem with food sales in the New Year’s season is that if in December you have the best sales of the year, then in January you will have the worst sales. The reason is very simple, people run out of money during the long holidays and by the end of January they start saving. This happens every year. Salaries are usually paid in Russia once a month at the end of the month. So, the end of the month people have very little left.
Therefore, I recommend my clients planning promotions and discounts for January. This will help them stimulate sales among customers and slightly improve financial result in January. Moreover, your Russian partners will be surprised by how well you understand business processes in Russia.
What food products are sold better during New Year’s holidays? All! I am serious, absolutely all food products! According to Russian tradition, the more food you have on a table, the better the year will be.
February 23, Men’s Day.
By this weekend everyone usually gets a salary and does not save on the holiday table. Officially, there is 1 day off, but if a holiday falls on Friday, the celebrations may last for 3 day including Saturday and Sunday. There will be such incredible sales like for the New Year, but if you sell alcohol, you will feel a significant increase in sales. There is no need for special sales preparation for these holiday. Typically, stores buy goods a week in advance.
March 8, Women’s Day.
This holiday brings increase in sales of all types of sweet products – chocolate(s), cookies, cakes, etc. A typical present from a man to a woman is flowers and sweets or a cake. There will also be increase in sales of fruit and wine. The rest of the food will be on a smaller demand. Stores buy goods about a week in advance. Sales on March 8 will be higher than on February 23.
Women spend more money on food for their own holiday. This is usually a family celebration at home.
May 1-9, May holidays.
Officially there only two days off in the period. They are May 1 and May 9, but due to the shifts of some days off from January to May official holidays last from May 1 to May 5. In many companies, people do not even work between May 6 and May 9. Therefore, May holidays may last from 9 to 12 days. At this time of the year, it is spring and the weather is already quite warm and sunny, so people usually celebrate May holidays in the countryside. People go to the country to have a barbecue or a picnic. Sales of meat and light alcohol (mainly beer) increase. On May 9, the Victory day, people have celebrations at home, especially the veterans who fought in the Second World War.
If your food business is not related to products that are good for barbecues or picnics (such as meat, chicken, fish, sauces, pickles, beer, fizzy drinks or ice cream), I recommend preparing in advance and scheduling discounts or promotions.
May holidays are the last holidays with significant increases in sales. The next big sale like this will happen only for the next New Year.
June 12, Day of Russia.
It may sound strange, but this is just a day off for 90% of Russians. You will not see growth in sales. Shops usually do not buy a large stock of goods for this holiday. The most important thing is that on this day it is usually forbidden to sell alcohol in stores.
November 4, National Unity Day.
It is just a day off like the previous one. This holiday is only a few years old, it replaced the holiday which was celebrated in the USSR for 75 years. There will be no increase in sales. When a Russian person doesn’t understand the essence of a holiday and does not feel it in their soul, they will not cook beautiful and tasty dishes for the table or buy alcohol.
As I mentioned above, after this holiday all food businesses in Russia immediately begin to prepare for the New Year holidays.
September 1, First School Day.
There is another holiday which is not an official day off, but it is always celebrated. This is September 1, the day when children start school in Russia. It is a special day for those kids who join school for the first year. In this case September 1 is a celebration for the whole family. Even though this is a family holiday, you will feel a bigger increase in sales than on June 12 or November 4. Typically, stores buy goods a week before September 1. This is a good holiday to plan an interesting campaign to stimulate additional sales.
If you plan your business strategy correctly, sales during Russian holidays will help you increase profits and get additional earnings. After all, you enter the Russian food market for that.
This article is a continuation of the article about doing business in resort cities of Russia where I explained that in the summer period (June, July, August) sales of food products usually fall by 35-40%, but there are way to to avoid it. If you’re interested to know how to do that, you read that article here.
Business Solutions in the Russian Food Industry
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