By Humphrey Carter

THE summer sales started with a bang in the Balearics yesterday with high street retailers desperate to shift tonnes of goods which have gone unsold because of the credit crunch and the dip in consumer confidence.

Thousands of bargain hunters queued outside some of Palma's main stores, in particular El Cortes Ingles, to be first through the doors and sources for the department store said yesterday afternoon that demand far exceeded all expectations with a significant number of people cashing in on the first day of the sales.

Retailers have slashed their prices by between 45 and 60 percent and during the second half of the sales next month, stores needing to get rid of their summer stock, are expected to reduce prices further.

The president of the Balearic retail federation Afedeco, Bartolome Servera, said yesterday that an “extraordinary and unexpectedly” large number of people flocked to the sales. “Considering the holidays have started and it was the perfect day to go the beach, we're pleased to report a very positive response from the consumers,” he said.

He admitted that, in the run up to the sales, the retail sector had been growing increasingly worried about the huge amount of unsold stock, especially clothes and footwear, but Servera is confident that the majority of retailers should offload their unwanted stock during the sales providing consumers continue shopping in similar numbers over the next few days.

If there is a sudden down turn in demand, then shops will start offering major discounts.
Sources for El Cortes Ingles which started the sales with discounts of 50 percent, believes that the response from the public is a good sign that the summer sales are going to help ease the pressure on the retail sector.

Spain's leading chain of department stores also explained that one of the reasons for their being a mountain of unsold stock in the retail sector is because the summer started later than usual and that little summer clothing, footwear and accessories were sold during the wet months of May and June.

However, the store is confident of a summer sales boom over the next two months.


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