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Ecommerce

Belarus: citizens turn to cross-border shopping

Thursday 11 December 2014 | 12:59 PM CET

Belarus citizens are more and more into purchasing items from across borders, belarusdigest.com reports.

Alibaba Group reported that customers from Belarus ranked fifth in the number of purchases, leaving behind the US and Canada in terms of online sales in the 2014 edition of China’s "Singles’ Day" (11 November). Belarusians spend nearly USD 3 billion annually abroad and domestic producers continue to lose their local markets.

However, radical restrictive measures to halt the large influx of imports is highly unlikely to get materialised. The regime needs to maintain its economic contract with the public. The authorities permit people to satisfy their material needs in exchange for political loyalty.

The Belarusian state-managed economy still cannot satisfy the consumer aspirations of its citizens. Consumers lack access to world famous brands locally and the seasonal discounts regularly found in market economies. Foreign companies in this sector are only starting to enter the Belarusian market.

Domestic prices remain high, so people prefer to shop in neighbouring EU cities like Vilnius, Bialystok and Warsaw. Recently, Russia also became a popular shopping destination, as the RUB devaluation made Russian products more affordable for Belarusians.

Internet usage is fast growing in Belarus. According to research conducted by the Analytic Centre of the Presidential Administration as of autumn 2014, 62% of Belarusians used the internet and around 50% of them were mobile-based.

However, a study by MASMI, a market research company based in the UK, from May 2013 showed that only 20% of Belarus' urban population shops online and only a quarter of them, or 5% of the urban population, made purchases on foreign websites.

Check out our "Cross-border Ecommerce Research" section here for more info on country-specific ecommerce facts and figures, preferred payment methods, risk and fraud, as well as ecommerce legislation and regulation for mature and emerging markets.

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