The coronavirus crisis will prove to be very difficult for small retailers to overcome. It is estimated that up to 15% will be unable to reopen once the state of alarm is lifted, while over the following months there will be further closures.
The president of the Afedeco association of smaller retailers, Antoni Gayá, says that shops in Palma will be among those most badly affected. "Many of them get by in winter thanks to the summer trade," he explains. But this isn't going to be the case this year. Tourism will plummet and local consumption will fall considerably because of the rise in unemployment. "There won't be money to spend." It won't only be Palma. Shops in tourist resorts will be hit hard as well.
Although finance is being made available for these small retailers, Gayá insists that it isn't sufficient. Measures such as suspension of self-employed contributions don't offer guarantees, if they then have to be paid. A further problem lies with rents. In the centre of Palma these can be up to 2,000 euros a month. "This will destroy us." These types of rent are easier for multinational chains to bear; for a small business they are not.
In his view, neither Palma town hall nor the Balearic government has responded with specific measures that were needed at the outset. There should have been "more empathy".
The crisis will have a direct impact on employment. "We are the sector that generates the highest number of stable jobs," says Gayá, who highlights the fact that many small retailers have opted not to apply ERTE layoff procedures, while once they reopen it's not known if they will be able to maintain jobs.