IF you believe the official figures shops in Palma have turned a corner and are now on track to report better sales and profits. Infact, official figures for the festive season suggest that sales actually rose by eight percent. So all is looking rosy or is it? I counted at least four shops holding closing down sales in one central Palma street yesterday and even the city´s premier shopping street, the Jaime III, has empty shop fronts. This state of affairs was almost unheard of until recently. If you go outside central Palma there are scores of empty shop fronts, both big and small. I think the High Street big boys are indeed enjoying better sales as a result of heavy discounting but the smaller stores are continuing to suffer. They can´t compete on price and also Spanish consumers have less to spend. I get the impression that many of the smaller shops have waited until after the festive period and then took the decision to close. It is all rather sad but it is certainly a sign of the times. And also Palma is changing. Gone are the traditional Majorcan cafes to be replaced by fast-food outlets selling pieces of pizza and soft drinks. I sometimes believe that Palma is losing its Majorcan character but demand and supply is king and to survive businesses have been forced to change. One thing for sure is that the Majorcan high street has been hit hard by the chilly winds of recession. Many shops have already gone by the wayside and I fear that there are many to follow whatever the official figures say.