By Humphrey Carter

PALMA
THE Winter sales kicked off in the Balearics yesterday with conflicting reports from the retail sector at the end of the first day's trading.
The main department stores, such as El Cortes Inglés, and the main super stores, reported a better start to the sales than last year and they expect to see trading during these first two weeks of the sales to outstrip last year as well with the shops being open this Sunday.

Obviously, one of the big attractions are the huge discounts which are on offer. In fact, sources for the National Association of Distribution to the Super Stores said yesterday that there are savings of over 70 percent on some three million items.

El Cortes Inglés, for example, opened its doors to scores of eager bargain hunters with savings of 50 percent on nearly all of its clothing and 40 percent on electrical goods and home furnishings.

The main high street chains, in particular the clothing shops, also reported brisk trading as did the large shopping centres such as Porto Pi.
But, not everyone was rubbing their hands with glee yesterday.
Palma's small, independent retailers were not too encouraged by the first day of the sales despite them matching the big chains and super stores with discounts of 70 percent.

As the Bulletin reported yesterday, many of the small retail sector are going to be shifting their unsold winter stock at cost price with very little or no profit margin.

The President of the calle Sant Miguel traders association, Joan Binimelis, said yesterday that the strategy is to sell as “cheaply as possible” this year. “People haven't got any jobs so they haven't got any money,” he said.
Binimelis also revealed yesterday that Christmas and Three Kings trade in Palma was between 25 and 30 percent down on last year and, according to the association of small to medium, sized shopkeepers Pimeco, 46 percent of traders claim sales were worse than winter last year.

Nevertheless, Palma City Council is continuing its festive programme of entertainment and street events in order to bring the city centre alive and attract consumers into town and encourage them to spend.

On the whole, consumers approved of the Christmas and Three King's programme the city council organised and this will run for the duration of the sales. But, it is going to be a tough two months for the independent retail sector which has mountains of unsold winter stock to get rid of.

Consumers groups, however, were yesterday warning people not to get carried away and spend for sake of bagging a good bargain. “Make a list of what you really need and stick to it,” one expert said.

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