No sooner has the Balearic government announced that it will lift the ban on superstore construction next year, the region's small shopkeepers are the only ones in Spain who suffered a four per cent drop in business in October. The superstore freeze was enforced to protect the livelihoods of the Balearic small trader, but the latest report published by the National Statistics Institute revealed that, compared to the rest of the country where there is no freeze on superstore developments, the small stores are the only ones suffering. In fact, while sales fell by four per cent in the Balearics, on the whole across Spain, business was up by seven per cent on September. Consumer groups also revealed yesterday that, in the Balearics, the cost of some necessary food items has risen by as much as 30 per cent over the past year - for example, a kilo of pears now costs 22 per cent more. The region's runaway inflation and the “euro round-up” are to blame and with rising unemployment, more and more people, especially families, are complaining that it is becoming increasingly harder to get to the end of the month - which is not good news for the commercial sector as a whole with Christmas just 12 days away and consumer confidence on the down turn.

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