SMALL traders in the Balearics have lost 47.5 percent of their share of the market to the large hypermarkets since 1997, a pattern that is repeated throughout the regions of Spain, and in particular in Madrid and Murcia. Local traders have been fighting against the opening of more hypermarkets and department stores in the Balearics.
A report from the Federation of the Self-Employed (ATA) reveals that the margin of business lost by small businesses in favour of large superstores in the last five years (1997-2002) affected all the Communities of Spain with a percentage of more than 40 percent, averaging at 46.2 percent. Following behind Madrid with 47.7 percent came Murcia with 47.6 percent and the Balearics (47.5%). Also higher than the national average were figures registered in Cantabria (46.9%) Galicia (46.5%) and Valencia (46.4%). Catalonia was on par with the national average. Below the national average were Castilla y León (46.1%), Aragón (46.0%), Andalucía (45.9%), the Basque Country (45.6%), Extremadura (44.8%), Asturias (44.6%), Navarra (43.1%) and the Canary Islands (42.8%). Lowest percentages were shown by Castilla-La Mancha with 40.7 percent and La Rioja with 41.6 percent. Furthermore, the Association has shown that since 1997, seven Spanish Communities have made reductions in the number of people employed in small trading businesses in their territory, although at a national level, the employment figure related to the sector has in fact grown by 2.80 percent. Amonst these seven regions, the most notable losses in employment in the sector were registered in Madrid with 21.99 percent, in the Balearics which lost 17.06 percent and Murcia with 11.03 percent. In contrast, the regions where there was most employment growth in the small businesses sector were Asturias (39.57%), Andalucía (24.53 percent) and Navarra (24.45%). Similarly, the number of retail trading establishments fell between 1997 and 2002 in six regions: Madrid lost 16.74 percent of its establishments, Murcia (7.8%), La Rioja (6.13%), Galicia 2.08%), Castilla-La Manch (1.58%) and Cantabria (1.33%). A very different viewpoint shows that the numbers of retail outlets in Navarra grew by 31.07 percent, in Asturias by 25.59 percent, and in Extremadura by 20.78 percent. This group of regions all registered increases above 20 percent. The report also raised concerns about the effect of uncontrolled free trade, which according to the Federation of the Self-Employed (ATA) would mean the closure of more than 51'600 small shops over a period of three years, with the consequent loss of 97'000 jobs. The graphic shows, by different regions, the total number of retail outlets and the number of workers employed in them during the year 2002, as well as the percentage variation shown in 1997 in both cases. In the last column, the loss of market quota over the last five years experienced by the small traders in favour of the large superstore is included as a percentage.

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