Saturday, December 12, 2009

A GLOOMY CHRISTMAS for Spanish retailers:
Spanish holiday spending will drop 9.1 percent this season, according to Deloitte, more than the 6.3 percent decline forecast for western Europe. El Corte Ingles SA, the nation’s biggest department store operator, is advertising 70 percent discounts to lure shoppers.

The credit crunch exacerbated the collapse of Spain’s housing boom last year, leaving people struggling to pay household debt that is among the highest in the euro region. The protracted crisis means more than half the jobless, including Serrano’s husband, have been out of work too long to get full benefits. Spain’s unemployment rate is 19 percent.

The outlook for next year doesn’t give consumers much reason for holiday cheer. The economy is forecast to contract 0.8 percent in 2010, lagging behind the European Commission’s estimate for European expansion of 0.7 percent. Spanish unemployment is expected to rise to 20 percent.