Balearic shopkeepers are starting to “pay the price” for the euro round-up inflation, a phenomenon the EU finance minister spent the first half of the year trying to deny. President of the Majorcan small shopkeepers' association (PIMECO) yesterday said that the single currency price round-ups not only added to inflation in the Balearics, but has also led to a slow down in consumer spending. Demetrio Peña said that the euro-fuelled rise in prices has been most noticeable on relatively low cost, but fundamental, products and that all consumers have noticed that shopping bills are this year much higher than last year. Demetrio Peña said that the drop in the Spanish stock exchange and the effects of the Prestige catastrophe have also added a dent to consumer confidence. It could not have happened at a worse time when the commercial sector expects to do most of its business during the Christmas and New Year season. “Spending has definitely slowed down; people have tightened their belts and we are not that optimistic about Christmas and New Year,” Peña said. He also accused the hypermarkets of “lying” to the local government about a drop in business “all they are trying to do is add weight to their lobby to be allowed to open on Sundays.” Per person, it is in the Balearics where, on average, spending has been the highest this year - not surprising considering the runaway four per cent rate of inflation, added to the euro effect. The latest report from the National Statistics Institute concludes that, on the whole, fewer families have been able to save money this year compared to 2001, although in the Balearics the number of households able to put money away has risen by ten per cent. However, the Balearics remains one of the regions in Spain where the majority of families find it the toughest to save money at the end of the month. During the third quarter of this year, 50.4 per cent of Balearics' families said they found it difficult or very difficult to get to the end of the month while the remainder found it easy or relatively easy to make ends meet. n average, 2.022'81 euros was spent per person during the third quarter, only in Navarro and the Basque Country did people spend slightly more, although, as Demetrio Peña said yesterday, the commercial sector is concerned that consumers are going to tighten their belts this Christmas. editorialUmajorcadailybulletin.es

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