By Humphrey Carter

THE summer sales got underway in Palm yesterday with a very serious message from the Palma City Councillor for Tourism and Commerce, Joana Maria Borras.

Officially opening the sales, she underlined the importance of the city's retail sector warning that it can not be ignored because without it, the capital will cease to exist as a tourist destination.

The principal reason the summer sales start later in the Balearics than the rest of Spain is to try and capture the tourist market and with some of the capital's leading stores kicking off the sales with massive discounts, holiday makers, especially Britons with a stronger pound, may find some of the bargains irresistible.

And, as a result, the retail sector is quietly confident that the summer sales trade will be better than last year when takings fell by between nine and 30 percent.

Borras added that it is a shame that the sales are overshadowed by the continuing recession but added that, she hopes the recent upturn in the tourist industry will have a positive effect on the retail sector over the next few months.

The sales, which traditionally began when El Corte Inglés opened the doors to queuing bargain hunters of its two department stores at 9.30am, will continue until September 6 and Borras urged Palma residents to “come out and enjoy the sales”.