Having some time to kill today, I went down to visit a friend who has a store on the beach here in sunny Mojácar. How's business? It's the question you have to ask. Now, there are a few places who say they've done really well, and why not, good luck to them and all that - but most store-owners, bar-keeps and restauranteurs say that it's been a very lean summer, and the autumn doesn't look very promising either. Many emptied shop-fronts are showing the 'se alquila - for rent' sign and the nervous owners (usually local mojaqueros) are beginning to get worried about whether they should continue to ask for the usual higher rent from the next customer.
There are simply too many places. Each apartment block in Spain is built over a ground-floor of potential shops and bars, and like anywhere else, we have too many businesses chasing too few clients.
When the tourists are here, the night clubs do good business (the owners spend the rest of the year in Madrid or Berlin), and the restaurants do what they can. Unfortunately, most of our local hotels offer a three-meal deal so who's going to go out for an expensive steak?
But after the short season is over - the bars, restaurants and stores have only the residents as customers. Now, we don't buy many tee-shirts, plastic squid bottle-coolers or humourous ash-trays and, as my shop-keep friend drily noted, the local population for their part never go to any of the foreign owned businesses if they can possibly avoid it.
Today we hear that this absurd government is going to put up taxes and the IVA (sales tax) which isn't going to help our small businesses much.