A new row is brewing over shop opening hours and deputy leader Pere Sampol has criticised town councils with coastal resorts, who want the whole municipality classified as a tourist area in order to benefit from extended opening hours. Shops in resorts can open 12 hours a day, seven days a week, from March 15 to October 30, whereas opening times are limited to a set number a week and no Sunday trading is allowed (with four or five exceptions) in other parts of the island. Sampol, who is minister of finance, commerce and industry, called the councils' request “exaggerated.” He was speaking after a meeting to set up the commerce advisory board, comprised of traders and consumers associations, island councils and unions. The board's first task was to study the requests from municipalities who want to be declared as tourist zones, even though they often have large industrial estates. The advisory board has ruled that all industrial estates whose presence is not justified should be excluded from a declaration of a tourist area. But, warned Sampol, while requests to open 12 hours a day seven days a week throughout the municipality will be approved this year, the councils will have to justify their reqests for next year. Sampol said that 23 town councils have asked for the entire municipality to benefit from the extended shopping hours and while in some, such as Valldemossa, the request has a solid basis, in others, such as Inca, there is no justification. The minister recommended that for next year, and before submitting their requests, councils should negotiate with the commercial sector, to define which areas should have more relaxed shopping hours. But this is only likely to cause confusion, not just to tourists but also locals. The new advisory board, whose findings are not binding, also analysed requests from nine councils which have asked for permission for shops in the neighbourhood of traditional markets to open on holidays. For those who like shopping in supermarkets, the board is in favour of the granting of licences to expand two existing supermarkets and opening two new ones in Palma. One of these would be close to the Camp Redó municipal market, and the board has asked for a study to evaluate the impact. However, before the board was set up, there were no objections to install a supermarket in the upper floor of the Olivar Market. Sampol said that the supermarkets in question complied with the limits established under the law on commerce, which authorises a maximum surface of 1'300 square metres in the case of Palma.

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