Russian stores run out of iPhones amid ruble slide

NEAR-TERM STABILITY::UBS Wealth Management said the currency, which is the most volatile among emerging market peers, would recover over the next three months


Sat, Jan 23, 2016 - Page 13

Russian retailers say they are running out of iPhones as consumers rush to buy before prices are adjusted to reflect the ruble’s slump to a record low against the US dollar.

“We are facing a shortage of the simplest iPhone 6 model because of outperforming demand for it this month, especially in the last two days when the ruble plunge gave an additional boost to sales,” said Maria Zaikina, a spokeswoman for Svyaznoy, Russia’s second-largest independent handset retailer, which runs more than 2,800 handset shops across the country.

The ruble has plunged beyond the lows it touched at the peak of Russia’s financial turmoil in December 2014 and one-month swings have made it the most volatile currency among emerging market peers after oil prices sank to a 12-year low.

The exchange rate touched 85.99 rubles per US dollar in Thursday’s trading, compared with 61 rubles in October last year.

The ruble yesterday rose the most since August last year, as a recovery in crude oil prices encouraged investors to buy assets in the world’s biggest energy exporter.


Russia’s currency jumped 3.3 percent to 79.9450 per US dollar as of 1:30pm in Moscow.

Bank of Russia Governor Elvira Nabiullina yesterday said that she does not want to allow fluctuations in the ruble exchange rate to increase and that policymakers have tools to act “proactively” and prevent threats to financial stability.

Apple Inc allowed Russian retailers to sell lower-end iPhone models at a discount to boost demand amid a recession.

The 2014 currency collapse also prompted customers to spend their rapidly depreciating savings on electronics and other big-ticket items, while retailers sought to hold ruble prices steady.

“Some of our stores have run out of 64-gigabyte iPhone 6 models, as demand exceeded our expectations,” retailer re:Store spokeswoman Lyudmila Semushina said.

The company’s iPhone sales in units rose 37 percent last month and 10 percent in the first 10 days of this month, she said.

“Demand for iPhones and MacBooks is rising over the last two days amid the ruble’s plunge,” Semushina added.


UBS Wealth Management is undeterred by the ruble’s plunge and sees the currency recovering to 73 per US dollar in the next three months, UBS Wealth Management emerging markets chief investment officer Jorge Mariscal said.

“It’s a combination of the ruble having perhaps gone a little too far and our constructive view on oil in the medium term,” Mariscal said by telephone from New York.

“Those are very interesting returns against the US dollar if they materialize,” he added.