The summer sales finally got under way in the Balearics yesterday with some stores offering unusually huge launch-day discounts. Savings of 50 per cent and more were being offered on high streets across the region as shop keepers strive to tempt consumers to spend. Now the population is accustomed to and comfortable with the single currency, the commercial sector hopes that the Euro will not cause the same confusion it did earlier this year in the winter sales. The January sales were for most traders a disaster and spending over the Christmas/New Year period was down on previous years. 57 per cent of traders in Palma said that the results of this year's winter sales were worse than 2001 with 44 per cent saying the sales were either bad or very bad. There were some healthy crowds of eager bargain hunters gathered outside department stores, especially El Cortes Inglés on the Avenidas, and shopping centres, but not of the magnitude the sales used to attract when they all started the same day. Over the past two weeks, many people have gone over to Barcelona or Madrid, where prices are cheaper anyway, for long weekends and to enjoy the sales. But, while response from residents may be fickle, last night, trading associations in Palma said that most stores enjoyed a busy day and reported a very large number of tourists out shopping. The slight drop in temperatures made many think twice about the beach and opt for the city. The number of shoppers on day one of the sales was estimated to have been between five and ten per cent higher than the first day of last year's summer's sales - on which it rained - and traders hope that more people will translate into more sales. All of the associations hope that the sales will help revive the sector and revenue. On the whole, most shopkeepers were last night up beat about the sales and pleased with yesterday's response. However, 13 shops in calles Adrián Ferrán and Francesc Suau were unable to open yesterday due to flooding. The weekend's heavy rain caused widespread damage to the string of shops and a spokesperson for the association of small shopkeepeers, Angel Pujol, said that apart from the rain, the main reason for the flooding is the poor condition of drainage in the two streets and urged the council to take some form of action before the winter.

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