THE National Association of Large Distributors (ANGED) claimed yesterday that Balearic consumers are paying for the restrictive commercial policy of the Balearic government with higher prices. A spokesman pointed out that last year the archipelago had the highest price increase in Spain (4.5 per cent compared to a national average of four per cent).
It also showed the biggest inflation rate in food and drink (5.2 per cent) and footwear and clothing (eight per cent).
The average increases in Spain in these fields were 4.6 and 5.3 per cent respectively.
The association groups together department stores, hypermarkets and other large shopping areas, and it claimed yesterday that the high rate of inflation in the Balearics is especially serious as it coincides with a period of economic sluggishness caused by a very weak tourist season.
The association claims that this shows that the high inflation in the Balearic Islands last year was not produced by a greater demand by tourists but by the government policy.
ANGED said that the Balearic government's policy, especially in banning the opening of new hypermarkets, delaying the start of the sales in comparison with other parts of the country and limiting opening times are measures which go against the interests of the consumers and generate inflation, as they limit competitiveness and free competition. The association pointed out that inflation hits the poorest section of the population most of all and called on the Balearic government to follow the recommendations of the European Commission and the Tribunal for the Defence of Competition, and allow free competition in the commerce sector, leaving it to the consumers to choose where and when to shop in accordance with their needs or preferences.
Sales in the Balearics started a week later than the rest of Spain, and Sunday shopping is restricted to five Sundays a year. Most shops also close on Saturday afternoons.