This is going to comprise several sessions since I was in Russia for over a month.

1) Summer is typically a slow season for retail in Russia - many people go on vacation in August (similar to continental Europe) and/or spend a lot of time in their vacation homes (dachas). However, sales at customer's retail cosmetics and grocery/mini marts is extremely slow even for summer.

Anecdotes include:

a) lowest traffic in 4 years (several stores)
b) One cosmetic shop's previous lowest weekly revenue was 5000 rubles, one week in June saw 550 rubles revenue

2) Pie index: 33 rubles. Originally were 23 rubles at low (when $1=25 rubles) and peaked out near 60 rubles (February 2009).

Pies still just as tasty as ever

3) Car sales down, incentives going up:

a) Chevy is advertising 2.9% financing for its vehicles in Russia. One government employed friend bought a Chevy mini-SUV on 0% financing (through government program) when his 20 year+ old Lada finally gave up the ghost

b) Nissan and Toyota also offering 2.9% or so financing.

This is a big deal since commercial loans are 20% or 25% typically; bank deposits are still getting 9% to 15% interest

4) Inventories for cosmetics visibly shrinking. Survey of 5 customer stores and a dozen or so non-customer prospect stores show significant decrease in amount of inventory on display - no outages but a lot more empty space behind the display row.

A number of retailers are also very aggressively pushing product - full consignment terms (i.e. no payment until sale). A Japanese and an Israeli company in particular

5) Real estate hurting badly. Several shopping centers are still not complete despite having the concrete frames already up. Anecdotes are that these are available for rent if prospective tenants collectively finance completion of construction.

Apartment prices have anecdotally dropped some 20% from mid 2008 peak - enough that a friend who bought a place in late 2007 believes he's lost money.

6) Lots of rumors of ruble going to 60 - but then again the previous rumors in December 2008 were for the ruble to hit 45 by March 2009.

7) Retail clothing and brand name stores having massive sales. Some sales always occur - in fact there is a common belief that most sales of 50% are preceded by 100% price hikes - but top line brand stores on the main streets are advertising 40%, 50%, even 70% price cuts.

Off drag stores extend this to even 90%

8) Credit cards are being cut drastically. Many anecdotes of previously little used or rarely used cards being rejected due to bank cancellations.

9) A friend who works in construction has been hit hard: previously was too busy to breath and had employed dozens of subcontractors; was thrown out of work in November 2008 and was only recently able to secure a new contract (government building) putting in a new roof in the Moscow airport expansion.