The winter sales start in the Balearics on Monday with high street traders hoping that consumers will embark on a spending spree. The Independent Consumer Federation claimed yesterday that, on average, 90 euros will be spent per person during the winter sales - little increase on previous years which will do nothing to lift shopkeepers' gloomy spirits. Some have complained that sales have fallen by as much as 30 per cent over the Christmas period and that trade has been similar to 1999. According to the federation, those shops which stand to benefit the most from the sales are clothing and textile stores - traditionally they enjoy 50 per cent of the sales market. But advice from consumers organisations is not to get too carried away, a reduction in price should not mean a reduction in quality. The federation yesterday advised bargain hunters to set themselves a budget and draw up a list of what is needed, leaving the bonus items until last. Consumers are also reminded that, just because it is the sales period, shops are still obliged to change goods (so make sure receipts are kept) and accept credit cards. Should consumers feel that their rights have been abused or are unhappy with service and quality of products, then the store's complaints department can either be used or contact the nearest consumer office.

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