Russian tourists bring relief to Finnish retailers

Tourism is providing retailers in Finland with a safety net amid ongoing financial woes in the region.

The Federation of Finnish Commerce said this week that it has seen an increase in spending among tourists crossing into Finland from Russia. Such trends are the sole ray of hope for retail firms as uncertainty continues to flood the euro zone, experts say.

Experts also say that the market for Russian tourists has massive potential for growth, as estimates suggest that only around 20 percent of St Petersburg residents have ever been to Finland.

Meanwhile, shop assistant Lilli Kruth told YLE reporters from behind the counter of the Kankurin Tupa handicrafts shop, “They are probably the largest group that come in all year round. They especially like buying furs and handmade woollen goods.”

Likewise, St Petersburg residents Ana and Sergei said during a trip to Helsinki, “The service is very good. We like to come here to shop.”

And the business is sorely needed, says Jaana Kurjenoja, Federation of Finnish Commerce’s head official. Mr Kurjenoja told YLE that his organisation is expecting to see growth in the retail sector decline to a mere one percent in 2012, leading to zero growth in 2013.

He added, “Up until now, retailers have maintained growth and employment, but next year this will not continue.”