Even though the 2010 tourist season was not as bad as had initially been forecast, it has not led to an increase in consumption by Islanders this Christmas. Although the shops and market stalls were as busy as in previous years, customers mainly bought cheaper items, leading to an average decrease of ten percent in sales when compared with 2009. A representative of the shopkeepers association commented that in other years the 15 days covering Christmas and the New Year accounted for between 30 and 35 per cent of their winter turnover, this year it has only been 25 per cent, although a slight recovery is expected during the January sales.
The same thing has happened with dining out at this time of the year; at one time staff Christmas parties would cost about €60 a head, whereas this year the average has been €40. However, many employers have chosen not to treat their staff this year, and it has been the same workers who have paid for an evening out from their own pockets. More families have also chosen to celebrate the festivities at home instead of going to hotels and restaurants, and the New Year’s Eve galas which often used to cost in the region of €100 a head, are, on the whole, considerably cheaper.
Spend within the supermarket has also decreased, again, and whilst the same amount is sold, it is made up of considerably cheaper products, with certain items which were habitual before 2007 now being considered a luxury.
The extent of the current economic crisis was borne out on the final day of the year, when the New Years Eve fiestas in the marquees which had been set up in various towns were only half full, the only exception being in San José which has a substantially smaller marquee. Altogether this New Year’s Eve was a quiet affair all round, with no major incidences of brawls, fights, noise or rowdiness being reported, with the emergency services only being called out for a few minor infractions.
According to a survey carried out prior to Christmas, this year the residents of the Balearics decided to reduce their spending on festivities by 25 per cent on certain aspects, such as holidays away from the islands, parties and presents which were not destined to their own children. Each person will have spent an average of €660, which is 13.8 per cent less than last year. 2010 is the third consecutive year to show a fall, although countrywide the average is even more pronounced. One of the non-essentials to suffer has been on the National Lottery, with each person spending an average of €75, 25 per cent less than the figure for 2009. Where the islanders continue to be faithful to tradition is that of presents for their children, with an average of €170 being spent on each of their offspring. The spending on food has also dropped by 6.6 per cent, to a low of €155 per person.