25 Sep 2013 14:26

Finmarket, Higher School of Economics, Yandex start to measure inflation in online stores

Information agency Finmarket, which is part of the Interfax group, together with the Development Center, a research institute of the Higher School of Economics, and Yandex.Market have launched a consolidated index showing price fluctuations in online stores.

The project, which has been named Internet Inflation, tracks price dynamics for 10 categories of goods that are popular among online store customers, and calculates the consolidated index on the basis of these prices. The goods include mobile phones; tablets; notebooks; digital cameras; televisions and plasma panels; refrigerators; slow cookers; watches; washing machines; hard disks and network drives. The number of categories will eventually be increased to 100 and more.

The most popular online goods were selected first, as the creators of the index reckon these will be the most representative. The project tracks real prices at which specific models are purchased. The popularity of the models is also measured. Official statistics do not currently hold such data as Russian Statistics Service specialists monitor price changes in stores, without observing specific models and their popularity. The new index will be calculated automatically, and data gathering is also automatic, so the index requires mainly computing capacity (currently the gathering and analysis of such information by official bodies requires the work of a huge number of people throughout the country).

“Although we are not calling our indicator an index of consumer prices on the internet, in our opinion, it reflects the dynamics of the most popular goods. The advantage of our index is that it is efficient and visible. Eventually we will add new categories and make our index more indicative and comprehensive. Nevertheless, we are not setting ourselves the task of disputing general inflation figures with official departments,” Finmarket Chief Editor Dmitry Kuznets said.

The calculation method behind the index was developed by the Higher School of Economis’ Development Center and data will be provided by online shopping assistant Yandex.Market. Information on 130,000 goods from 7,800 stores working with Yandex.Market were analyzed for the index. Finmarket was the author of the idea and the organization center as well as providing a platform to visualize the results of the research.

Finmarket information agency was created in March 1994 and it joined the Interfax group in 2007. It provides financial, economic and business information, aimed at professional stock market participants (banks, financial, investment, brokerage and insurance companies) and a wide range of specialists interested in the events on Russia’s financial markets. The agency’s www.finmarket.ru portal has for several years been among the most cited among thematic websites.

The Higher School of Economics was established on November 27 1992. In 2010 it received the status of a national research university. It is one of Russia’s leading universities with over 20,000 students and around 590 PhD students.

Development Center is a research institute that joined the Higher School of Economics in 2009. It was established in 1999 and is analyzes the macroeconomic situation and economic policy in Russia with an emphasis on the banking system and monetary policy.

Yandex.Market is a personal shopping assistant service. The service looks at offers from over 13,000 online stores. comScore Media Metrix reports that over 14 million customers used the service in August 2013.