Monday, December 01, 2003

An economic barometer has recently opened in Kiev; the city now has a Hallmark card store. Everything sold in a Hallmark store is discretionary in nature; people will celebrate in grand style without these products. While gifts can be given without gift wrap and birthdays are celebrated without birthday cards, it is a sign of rising consumer spending when there is a demand for Hallmark products. The interesting aspect of Hallmark is that most of the goods in the store are low priced (from a Western viewpoint). While there are countless stores in Kiev selling high priced products that are discretionary in nature, this is the first store that focuses on low priced discretionary goods. I expect that these shops will expand in Kiev and through out the major cities of Ukraine. There are apparently numerous Hallmark stores in Moscow and St. Petersburg. The economy of Ukraine is still much in the shadows. Little signals and signs that indicate some economic direction are always useful.

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