Discounts not expected to be this high. | Jaume Morey

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The associations for smaller retailers, Afedeco and Pimeco, say that the majority of shops have started their winter sales early, the discount signs already having been put up and with the hope of attracting business before Three Kings. Large stores, such as El Corte Inglés, are waiting until Friday, which marks the official start of the winter sales season; official, but shops can begin earlier if they wish.

Despite the early start, doubts have been raised as to how successful it will be. This is because of the health situation. Consumer activity was good towards the end of last year, influenced by some cold weather and discount voucher promotions that a number of town halls were involved with. However, in mid-December there was a sudden slowdown because of the explosion in the number of Covid infections.

The Pimeco president, Antoni Fuster, says that "we hadn't anticipated the paralysis of sales", while his counterpart at Afedeco, Antoni Gayá, adds: "People are worried again. There is fear of going out and uncertainty has grown."

Discounts are not expected to be high - some 20 to 30 per cent and in line with those for Black Friday. The main reason for this is that retailers haven't been carrying high levels of stock.