The shops of the Costa Daurada close the season far from the figures of 2019

It seemed that this was going to be the season to recover the ground lost the last two summers due to the pandemic. However, the improvement in the numbers of overnight stays and the return of international tourism have not translated into a great campaign for the trade of the Costa Daurada. This is how the businessmen from Cambrils, Salou and Torredembarra explain it, who coincide in pointing out that sales levels have grown compared to last year, but that they are still not close to those prior to the pandemic. In addition, the sector is facing new problems, such as the rise in prices or problems with supplies, which prevent talk of a recovery after the hard blow caused by the health crisis.

"We come from two very bad years and this summer has been better, but not as much as expected," acknowledges Juli Vilaplana, president of the Shopping Salou association. The worst part, he points out, has been the fashion stores, while other sectors such as appliance companies or renovations have experienced a significant upturn in activity in Salou due to the return of second homes and vacation rentals. .

"There has been an improvement, but it does not reach the objectives or the expected recovery compared to 2019," agrees the entity's representative, Lluïsa Giménez. Beyond the level of sales, she states that “the situation is complicated. There is a general increase in prices, electricity, transport, stock problems... A little more normality is urgently needed». Even so, she assures that Salou's commerce is surviving without suffering many closures and even with new stores. “Many of the closures that have occurred have been due to retirement. Before, a merchant who reached the age to retire, perhaps continued to be active for another year, but with the current scenario they prefer to close », explains Giménez.

"There are more tourists, but the stays are shorter and that means you have fewer days to retain customers", Juli Vilaplana (Shopping Salou)

The good weather has been a beneficial factor for merchants in Salou throughout the summer and also in September and October, with a season that has lengthened even among shops in the most touristic areas. On the opposite side, the president of the entity points out two major problems that have affected sales this campaign. On the one hand, “there have been more tourist arrivals, but the stays have been shorter. That implies that you have fewer days to retain customers. If they come for five days and one goes to PortAventura, you don't have as many opportunities for them to come and buy at your store », he points out.

no russian tourists

On the other hand, from the association they have also detected that the baggage limits of the airlines, increasingly strict, prevent international tourists from buying clothing or footwear. “It is a subject that is becoming very complicated. Tourists already come with just the right amount of luggage and they can't take almost anything with them," laments Vilaplana. The loss of Russian tourism and the consolidation of online shopping with the pandemic are other handicaps that Shopping Salou highlights.

Meanwhile, from the Unió de Botiguers (UB) of Cambrils, its president, Tomás Sierra, assures the Daily that for businesses this tourist season has not been as positive as initially thought. «We can say that there has been a large influx of people and that expectations have been exceeded in terms of visits, but at the moment of truth for the businessman it has not been as good as we expected. It has been neither good nor bad, but intermediate”, affirms the man from Cambril, who adds that sectors such as restaurants, hotels and campsites have obtained good results but in the case of shops a little more sales were expected.

«There has been an influx of people, but it has not been as good a season as we expected», Tomás Sierra (Unio de Botiguers de Cambrils)

It states that there has not been a business that has stood out compared to other businesses. Clothing, accessories, footwear or electrical appliances have continued to be sold, but without the rhythm of yesteryear. In addition, as for the fashion sector, he explains that they have had difficulties to market those pieces of clothing and accessories for the autumn-winter season because the high temperatures have not helped. "Before, there were many tourists and people from second homes who bought winter coats and shoes here, but this heat has made many not want to go into a store and try on a coat, boots or sweater," says the president. What has worked are the sales fairs and opportunities that have been held in summer and that have allowed businesses to release their stock.

uncertain moments

An intermediate level of sales and the price of supplies soared that make forecasts for this winter uncertain. "We will have a very tight time, we believe it will be a fairly good season but we are afraid of what will or will not happen," he concludes.

Alberto Rodríguez, a member of the Nova Unió de Comerciants i Empresaris de la Pineda, also expresses himself in this line: «In summer there has been a lot of joy and a lot of work has been done, but this autumn there is also a lot of fear due to inflation and the increase in costs. ».

In the tourist center of Vila-seca, the sensations this season have been positive, already without restrictions and with the return of vital clients such as the British or the French. "We have invoiced much more than the previous year and we have recovered pre-pandemic figures, but the rise in costs will mean that the income statement is not so positive," admits Rodríguez. An added problem this campaign, he says, has been the lack of personnel. "There are businessmen who have had to reduce their hours or even close one day a week," he explains.

Hours at convenience

Seeing that the numbers do not come out, there are not a few merchants who have decided to open their establishments depending on whether or not there is an influx of people on the street. They even adapt the schedule to their personal life. Idoia, from the Aiguamarina store in Torredembarra, has chosen to "close depending on what you have to do in other matters." The only thing she is clear about is that on Saturdays she will continue to open.

“I get a lot of material from Italy and in a year the cost of transport has tripled”, Kathia (Torredembarra Merchant)

Something similar happens to Kathia, from La Piccola Boutique, but her approach is different: “Perhaps I work part-time and open only in the mornings, because in the afternoons and even on weekends it is empty. It's a disaster », she laments. Kathia also stresses the damage that inflation has done to her: "I get a lot of material from Italy and in a year the cost of transport has tripled."

Another factor that makes Torredembarra merchants decide to stop their activity in the face of winter is the use of social networks. Some like Daniella, from El Museu, know that in the months when the influx of people is low, it is much more likely to have more sales through the internet. "I have more than 6,000 followers on Facebook, there are many more people than those who will come physically in days."

Finally, in the Torrense case there are also those who, despite being aware of the difficulties of the coming months, will continue to maintain the schedule. This is the case of Cristina, from the Oh La La store. She assures that «I will continue to open during the normal day. I only take a week's vacation", but he is aware that "the number of people and sales in winter have nothing to do with those in summer" and that, due to the extreme rise in prices, "it is impossible for me to hire someone no matter what the season."

Increasing airline baggage restrictions hurt stores

Intermediate sales and soaring supplies make this winter uncertain

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