After years of controversy, the French-run hypermarket chain Carrefour, one of the world’s largest retail giants, finally opened a store in Armenia earlier in March. But, for many Armenians, the opening signified more than just easier access to a vast array of retail items. Rather, it signaled a potentially significant step for Armenia toward genuine market competition.
When it comes to competitive pricing of retail goods Armenia ranks poorly among formerly Soviet states. A 2013 World Bank report ranked Armenia as the most monopolized economy among the then-11 former Soviet republics that comprised the Commonwealth of Independent States. Little evidence exists to suggest that conditions have changed significantly over the last few years.
“Carrefour’s entrance into the market is definitely a positive step,” commented economic analyst Hayk Gevorgian, who works for the pro-opposition Armenian Times daily.
Political analyst Richard Giragosian agreed. Carrefour’s opening in Armenia “may mark an important turning point in the development of a more open and competitive market,” he said.
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Marianna Grigoryan is a freelance reporter based in Yerevan and editor of MediaLab.am.