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  Thursday, September 19, 2019
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Stores in Belarus have been hit by crowds of shoppers buying
Stores in Belarus have been hit by crowds of shoppers buying up foreign goods leaving shelves empty after the country devalued its currency by 20% against the U.S. dollar on January 2.

Belarus has been badly hit by the global financial crisis and the National Bank set its dollar/Belarusian ruble exchange at 2,650 Belarusian rubles as of January 2, compared with 2,200 previously. The euro was up to 3,703 against 3,077 before the devaluation.

The devaluation was a condition for a $2.5 billion IMF loan that was approved last Wednesday.

Following the bank's announcement, Belarusians lined up outside shops shut for the New Year holidays in scenes reminiscent of Soviet times.

In the stores that were open over the holiday period crowds swept through buying imported fridges, washing machines and household appliances.

"Yesterday and the day before yesterday it was like a mob in here! During the day we sold almost 50 fridges. On average people can save around $200 on one fridge," a sales person at one of Minsk main department stores said.

She went on to say that every department in the store was packed with people buying everything - kettles, ovens, vacuum cleaners, irons

A senior sales manager at one Minsk shopping mall said "Coping with such a flow of people is really difficult. We aren't able to serve people. They are snapping up all the foreign fridges and washing machines and not even looking at domestic goods."

The Russian government earlier agreed to grant Belarus a $2 billion stabilization loan. Belarus received half the sum in November.


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