The National Association of Distributors (Anged), to which 15 major Spanish hopping chains belong, confirmed yesterday that consumption had slowed down in Spain in general and the Balearics in particular as a result of the crisis which came in the wake of the terrorist attacks in the United States. Spokesman Antonio Bernabeu said that turn over would be less than expected, but would not drop below the 4.4 billion pesetas of last year. He said that they viewed the situation with optimism, despite the problems created by the general instability. You must bear in mind that our sector is very dynamic and has major projects underway, he explained. He announced that official consumer figures for the first few months of the year would be announced in the next few days but admitted that this figure will be very different to that for the second half of the year, which will be marked by what he called the perplexity of the situation affecting the world economy. As to the Balearics, Bernabeu said that the island has fewer hypermarkets and department stores than other parts of Spain. He said that the region lagged way behind Madrid, Valencia and Andalucia and no big hypermarket or department store had been opened since 1995. He went on to say that the Balearics beat the national average where supermarkets were concerned, but not for large shopping areas. Experts have failed to find a plausible explanation for the drop in sales in the jewellery sector in the Balearics. When the economy slows down - and all the experts reject the word crisis people with cash to spare have always invested their money in gold. But that is not what has been happening after the terrorist attacks in the United States.