Customer numbers have fallen dramatically. | Miquel À. Cañellas


At Mercat 1930 on Palma's Paseo Marítimo, Luis Recoveni calculates that his sales have fallen by 75 per cent since work started on redevelopment of the road. "I'm closing two days a week and am waiting for an ERTE (furlough scheme) to be accepted. We have asked the Balearic Ports Authority to suspend taxes. I hope we can hold out until the works are finished." Right by is what used to be the Tito's nightclub, which is scheduled to open this summer as the Lío Mallorca club. "We hope that its opening will encourage business."

It's a similar story elsewhere. There are few people around. Concerts and shows at the Auditorium continue to pull in audiences, but businesses are otherwise suffering. They understand the need for renovation but fear the impact of the work - completion of the remodelled Paseo Marítimo is scheduled for October 2024. Some, like Luis Recoveni, are looking at ERTE; others will try and hold out. Meanwhile, and in general, revenue is down around 50%.

José Antonio Sánchez, who runs Pad Thai Wok, a franchise that has another branch in Plaça Espanya, says: "This is so wrong. I'm not complaining about the work, which was necessary, but we've just recovered from the pandemic and now this ... . And I'm one of the least affected. Luckily I can work with delivery orders. These will save us. But there are no parking spaces here and it will be difficult to last 22 months."

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Some places have opted to close, to take holidays or to undertake refurbishment. The odd 'se traspasa' sign has appeared as has one saying "we'll be back next season". Hotels like the Palma Bellver and the Palma Marina are open; others are waiting until Easter.

At the Sa Cranca restaurant, Francisco Coca explains that last Wednesday they had one table occupied. On Tuesday, there were two, both with two diners. He speaks from experience, as the establishment has been open for over thirty years. February is always quiet, "but I've never experienced this downturn".

His takings are down 60 per cent compared with February last year. "We're waiting to see if there's any help or if we'll have to do an ERTE." The worst aspect, he stresses, concerns the employees. "They have families, mortgages, rents ... . We have to put up with whatever it takes. The project is going to be great, but if we can't work, some businesses will go under."