By H. Carter

PALMA
CHRISTMAS is just around the corner, the lights are already up in Palma, and the Spanish are flocking to London and New York for their Christmas shopping.

Harrods, Fortnum & Masons and Oxford Street are some of the most popular European Xmas shopping haunts for the Spanish while, for those heading to New York, it is Macey's and Bloomingdales.

According to the latest report by internet travel group Easyviajar.com, the most popular overseas shopping destinations for the Spanish are London, New York and Paris while, for those preferring to shop at home, Valencia, Barcelona and Madrid are the top shopping spots. “Shopping tourism” is a relatively new activity for the Spanish but, fueled by the expansion of the low coast airline connections to the rest of Europe, is growing fast. The low cost airlines are offering the Spanish a host of new travel formulas and options. Pablo Szefner, the director of Easyviajar's Spanish operations, said “as it is becoming increasingly easier to travel, more and more people are visiting Europe's top cities just to shop. It's a whole new sector of the tourist industry.

What is more, some customers are deciding what they want to buy before choosing their destinations.” This Christmas, the strength of the Euro against the Dollar is proving very attractive to Spanish Xmas shoppers. “There are some amazing bargains to be snapped up in New York,” said Szefner. “What we are also finding is that shoppers heading to New York are branching out to the trendy neighbourhoods of Soho, Nolita and Chelsea and in doing so get to see parts of the city traditional travellers often ignore.” Palma's former conservative city council tried to transform the city into a top shopping destination. Trouble is all the shops are closed on the weekend.

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