Sales: underway.

The winter sales started in the Balearics yesterday, but unlike years gone by, when hundreds of people would gather outside stores hours before opening, the queues of hungry bargain hunters were somewhat reduced. But the commercial sector is upbeat and optimistic, maintaining that the euro will have little effect on the sales. Consumers yesterday agreed, many saying that if there are any doubts caused by the euro, they will pay by credit card. Palma's department stores and shopping centres claimed that the response on day one of the sales was similar to the past few years. But for some of the small shopkeepers, it was far too early to make any kind of prediction as to how the sales will develop, however they hope that over the next few days, they will get a clearer idea as to how buoyant consumer confidence is amidst talk of an economic down turn and general uncertainty in the high streets across the euro zone. As 10am approached yesterday, small queues had built up outside the large stores and business picked up as the morning dragged on, peaking yesterday evening once most people had finished work. Spokesperson for El Cortes Inglés, Pep Ramis, said “the forecast is the same as in previous years. Just like over Christmas, we hope that the public shop as regularly as usual. Although nobody knows what kind of effect the euro may have but we don't expect to see any great changes with regards to previous years.” Palma's shopping centre did not witness any problems with the euro with trading as fluid as usual at Porto Pi. Despite the Balearic sales having started nearly a week later than other parts of the country, they will all finish at the same time, on February 28 to coincide with the end of the peseta. Some of the small shopkeepers claim they are having to do the work of the banks with a large number of consumers still paying with large peseta notes and receiving their change in euros. Ironically though, the traders believe that this year's winter sales could end up being more profitable than over the past few lean years with a number of people eager to spend their pesetas. The late arrival of winter is another factor which could also fuel sales of winter clothing. While the cold did not really set in until last month, many people may have decided to wait for the sales before buying new overcoats and other winter woollies.


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