Euro or pesetas, it appears that despite the winter sales, few people have been spending either. High street trading since the start of the year has fallen. Despite the mad rush in the Balearics by people eager to get their hands on the new single currency, they then rushed home again as opposed to the winter sales. On February 21 last year, a snap survey revealed that 45 per cent of shop keepers felt the winter sales had gone well. This year they started on a good note, the major stores and shopping centres say that response during the first few days was as expected, but the small traders were some what less optimistic. Yesterday, according to the two main commercial associations, Pimeco and Afedeco, as well as the large stores, sales are down on last year with a drop in consumer confidence being blamed. The results of a snap survey among shop keepers has shown that 57 per cent have suffered a drop in sales compared to the winter sales last year. With the sales coming to an end tomorrow night, along with the peseta, 44 per cent of traders said that the sales have either been bad or very bad. Commercial experts said that the combination of dented consumer confidence and consumers not being fully aware of the real value of the single currency, has proved highly negative. Chairman of Afedeco, the bulk of whose members are small to medium sized traders, Pau Bellinfante, said yesterday that the general feeling in the sector has not been very positive, “in fact negative because the sales have been so slow.” He added that the overall opinion of shop keepers is that the euro has slowed down consumer spending. Bellinfante confirmed that the results of the winter sales will be poor in comparison to last year “and that's not going to help the local commercial sector.” The superstores and hypermarkets look set to emerge from the sales unscathed with sales on par with last year, but the sector has said that consumers have been more careful about what they spend and are making more of an effort to try and save money. Families in the Balearics are still having more of a problem than anywhere else in Spain in reaching the end of the month. The run away cost of living, along with some of the lowest wages in Spain, appear to have knocked a great deal of high street confidence out of consumers. And with a gloomy outlook for the coming summer season, people are playing safe and siting on their savings.

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