By Humphrey Carter
HIGH street traders and shopping centres are braced for a mad rush when they open their doors today, the last Sunday before Christmas.
The supermarkets are fully stocked with festive produce and there are gifts galore. All that traders need now is for consumers to get into the festive spirit and start spending.

So far this year, the sales of gifts, especially toys, has been slightly slower than usual with the commercial sector claiming yesterday that most people are waiting until the Christmas double pay is in the bank.

However, in order to beat the last minute rip-off, consumers have got wise over the years and are buying food and drink earlier every year.
Last year, an average of 300 euros was spent per household on food and drink with 2 out of every three consumers ignoring the price tags, according to the Ministry for Agriculture's Christmas report. Apparently, 62 percent of Spanish shoppers buy what they want as opposed to what they can afford to eat at this time of the year.

What is more, December has become a good month for gourmet stores and delicatessens.
More and more money is being spent on fine foods and wines at this time of year despite the fact that, last year for example, the price of medium to good quality wines rose by 51.9 percent, some 4.8 euros per litre. The price of seafood shot up by 38 percent, nine euros per kilo and fresh meat, 29 percent. In keeping with tradition, most families will be tucking into seafood, sucking pig and fish. At this time of year, the vast majority of consumers prefer to buy regional or Spanish produce.

Last year, according to the Consumer Panel, the products in most demand were turron, seafood, especially mussels, pork, cava and quality wines.
Last Christmas and New Year, we drank 47 million litres of cava and sparkling wines in Spain. This year, the wine industry is confident that they will break the 50 million litre mark.

So, shops and super markets are hoping for a Christmas rush today as the Balearics starts stocking up for the festive season. Consumer groups are warning people not to get ripped off “just because it's expensive doesn't always means it's good.”

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