Luxury Stores in Moscow Shut Doors Amid Crisis

MOSCOW (AP) -- As the global financial crisis and low oil prices deplete the fortunes of Russia's super rich, the market for luxury goods in Moscow is shrinking and some designer boutiques are shutting their doors.

If the trend continues, the Versace-clad set may soon be flocking to the favorite shops of office workers, market observers say.

In the chic Kuznetsky Most district in central Moscow, several boutiques are closing and some other shops are offering steep discounts.

There are also signs that business is suffering at GUM, the landmark shopping center on Red Square where affordable chains rub shoulders with designer fashion. Shops that just six months ago were bringing in customers have either shut down or relocated. Along the mall's third floor, numerous shops stand empty.

Although Moscow still has many high-end clothing and shoe stores, luxury retailers who until recently were enjoying a boom have been hit hard by the recession.

"It is not a secret to anyone that we are in the middle of a global crisis now, and buying a new pair of shoes or a purse is now less important for people than it was six months ago," said Daria Veledeyeva, editor of Grazia magazine. "And the producers and sellers of luxury goods are losing a lot from this."

Designer brands like Stella McCartney, Alexander McQueen and Lanvin have recently announced that they are closing their stores in Moscow. But lower-priced brands are expected to take their place.

"I think the consuming will simply be redistributed," said Anastasia Pyatina, editor of the Russian magazine Cosmopolitan Shopping. "People who can't afford Stella McCartney and McQueen would be buying H&M, and this is not that bad."

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