By Humphrey Carter
THE summer sales start in the Balearics tomorrow and the retail sector is hoping that trade will lift spirits on the high street.
With fewer holiday shoppers than usual and local consumers having tightened their belts even more this year, both the Pimeco and Afedeco retail associations have admitted that summer trade is poor. However, there is apparently an air of optimism amongst traders that the summer sales will boost trade.

Afedeco secretary general Antonio Vilella, said yesterday that the sales outlook is better than last year “despite the poor start to the summer season, things are picking up and we are all pretty optimistic.” Angel Pujol, the Pimeco secretary general, was not quite as upbeat however.
He said that, so far, high street sales, are “poor.” “But, we've got to be realistic and we're living in a complicated consumer situation in Spain because of the strong Euro,” he said.
The dip in consumer confidence over the past 18 month has, nevertheless, led to some stores offering special discounts outside the official sales period. This is something which, in theory, is not permitted by local trading laws. Inspectors will be keeping a close eye on the retail sector during the sales to ensure consumers are not ripped off.

The sales can last between one week and two months, but products previously on offer, cannot be included in the summer reductions while all prices have to show the original price and the sales price.

Both Vilella and Pujol yesterday complained about the continual rise in the number of retail outlets offering discounts and offers two months prior to the winter and summer sales.

Nevertheless, Vilella said that, this year, less shops have been caught by the inspectors than in previous years, although unfair competition is always going to be a problem.

This year, the summer sales are staring a week earlier than last year, but still a week later than on the mainland. Die-hard bargain hunters have already cashed in at the sales on shopping sprees to Madrid and Barcelona.

Vilella said that the change in dates has confused some parts of the retail sector, adding that the time has come for a sales calendar to be fixed.
But Pujol believes that, in view of the varying performance of the tourist season, year-on-year, the sales should be more flexible.
He believes that, if the tourists are going to come later in any given year, then postpone the sales.

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