STAFF REPORTER

RETAIL trade sales in the Balearic Islands slumped by 8.4 percent last year, the National Institute of Statistics (INE) reported yesterday, the highest loss in the country
The figures showed a notable difference from the national average where the decline had been less sharp at 5.4 percent.
In terms of employment in the retail sector, 4 percent of job numbers were lost last year across the country whereas the figure in the Balearics was slightly higher at 4.8 percent.

The results are further bad news for Spain following on from a downturn of 5.6 percent in retail trade registered at the end of 2008.
According to the INE, food sales fell by 3.4 percent last year and non-comestibles by 5.1 percent. The retail trade sector suffering the greatest losses was in household items which returned a negative figure of -16.2 percent. Only the large chain stores, said the INE, escaped the slump.

Apart from the Balearics, the greatest losses were reported in Valencia (-8.2%) and the least in Galicia where retail trade slumped last year by just -1.9 percent, Extremadura (-2.3%) and Asturias (-2.4%).

Job cuts in the retail trade sector in 2009 resulted in a national average decline of 4 percent. All outlets cut their staff numbers but losses were particularly acute in hypermarkets and department stores where the downturn registered -8.3 percent. Next in the firing line were small chain stores (-6.2%), individual shops (-2.7%) and large chain stores (-2.5%).