By Humphrey Carter THE winter sales start here tomorrow with the retail sector hoping for a bargain bonanza to help lift the high street gloom. Retailers are split over the success of the festive sales drive, some, in particular those in Palma, claim the Christmas campaign launched by the city council proved positive and helped to slightly increase trade. In general, Majorcan shopkeepers maintain that the Christmas period was relatively slow - however - yesterday many of the department stores and shopping centres were packed with people, buying last minute presents for Three Kings with long queues in the toy departments.

Nevertheless, most of the island's retailers will have asked Santa Claus and the Three Kings for a bumper winter sales period to compensate for a poor year and a rather lean summer sale.

Some areas of the clothing sector suffered a 40 percent fall in trade last year. This is where some of the best bargains are going to be had with some spectacular discounts expected between tomorrow and March 7, the official end of the winter sales period in the Balearics.

The real bargain hunters, however, have already hit the sales in Madrid where they started on January 1, by jumping on a plane and buying their presents for Three Kings at discount prices.

Many of those why have opted to wait until they start will be up and out bright and early tomorrow morning to catch the best bargain when the stores open. The retail sector is expecting us to spend an average of 150 euros each in the sales.