Despite the rapid deprication of the Russian ruble as a result of the tensions on the Crimean Peninsula Russians shop more than ever in the border town of Kirkenes. In March the number of border crossings has increased with 14 percent compared to the same month last year.
“We haven`t seen any negative impacts yet,” says shop manager Britt Gade at Rema 1000 at Hesseng outside Kirkenes. She is one of several other business owners BarentsObserver contacted in order to see if the market has changed after the Ruble started to fall.
Even though the market seems to be unaffected, Gade underlines that it is impossible to predict the future.
“Russia is a huge country and there is still a great uncertainty connected to the impacts of the crises. Maybe we haven`t seen all the repercussions in the North yet,” she says.
No shopping stop Russian customers BarentsObserver talked to are not worried about the impacts of the Ruble drop in value.
“Yes, the Ruble has fallen, but if you have followed the situation closely, you might have noticed that it has become stronger and is now stabilizing towards the Euro and the Norwegian Krone,” says Kirill Sidorenko from Murmansk.
He visits Kirkenes as least once a week. Sometimes he brings his parents and friends. Other times he comes by himself just to enjoy a cup of coffee at the cruise ship Hurtigruten or walk around in the center. He is certain Russians will continue travelling to Norway.
“The most important thing isn`t the Ruble, but that people come for new experiences,” he says.
Cheaper in Norway Marina Polyakova from Murmansk agrees with Sidorenko.
“If our border authorities won`t come up with any obstacles, we will continue travelling,” she says.
According to her it is both more favorable and interesting things to buy in Kirkenes than in Murmansk.
“We will continue buying things here because it`s cheaper and the quality is better,” Marina adds.