Shopping for Christmas and Kings’ Day presents has gone better than expected, thanks in part to discounts offered by some retailers (article in Castilian, El Periodico). Experts thought that customers would spend less due to a lack of confidence in the economy and the ongoing effects of the recession on their budgets. However, following the last Sunday opening before Kings’ Day this Wednesday, shops are reporting relatively positive sales. The organisation ANGED, which represents large distribution companies in Spain, says that in recent days, sales have been rising thanks to the large discounts on offer in some places, which in certain cases reach 40 percent off the original price. The sudden and late cold snap in mid-December is also thought to have contributed to the growth in amount spent between the end of 2009 and start of 2010. Despite the positive news, it is thought that turnover will be just under 10 percent less than in the same period last year.
An EU law comes into force today regulating the use of fireworks in public events, which has caused concern about the effect it could have on the various Catalan and Spanish traditions that feature fire and fireworks (article in Catalan, Avui). For the moment, local events won’t be affected because Spain is still in the process of adapting the legislation into national law. Both the Spanish government and the Generalitat are planning to apply to the EU for a higher level of freedom regarding the implementation of the law due to the negative effects it could have on popular events such as the correfoc (‘fire run’), which is a common sight at many festivals in Catalunya. The new law states that under-12s will now be banned from having access to explosives and that there should be a minimum distance of 15 metres between the public and any fireworks being set off. Such requirements clash with features of customs like the correfoc, where onlookers are encouraged to dance very close to people holding burning fireworks, although they are generally covered from head-to-toe with protective clothing.
Also in the news: Real Madrid miss opportunity to move to top of football league (La Vanguardia); Number of car parking places for sale doubles in a year (El Periodico); Catalan study suggests balanced diet and a more holistic treatment could help reduce autism symptoms (Avui)