An open-air shopping centre is defined as being a row or rows of stores and other outlets that are managed as a unit with common areas that are not enclosed. A growing trend in attempting to compete with out-of-town malls, such a scheme is being envisaged for Palma.

The associations representing smaller retailers, Afedeco and Pimeco, are working with the Balearic government and Palma town hall on bringing this about. At the most recent meeting of representatives this week, there was agreement for a consultancy study to be undertaken and for an initial four-year budget of 600,000 euros to be set aside by the ministry for trade and industry.

The president of Afedeco, Rafael Ballester, says that this form of shopping centre will be similar in some respects to out-of-town malls in terms of joint promotions and strategies and that the intention would be to involve the maximum number of retailers.

To begin with, the centre would embrace the calles Velázquez, Sindicat and Sant Miquel and the Plaça Major. It could then be extended to the area around the Born avenue.

Toni Fuster of Pimeco is confident that the government will make funding available, and he says that the "union" of the two associations is fundamental to the success of the scheme and to the defence of smaller retailers in Palma. He describes an open-air centre as one where people have the sensation of being in the same complex because signage and logos would be the same and there would be "homogeneity" on the streets.