Friday, September 11, 2009

 

Small Business

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.

Comments:
It is about time that the local landlords wake up and realise that even the current rents are not affordable by most tenants trying to make a living from fewer customers.
There is a clear choice for landlords; receive a modest but reliable and regular income or get absolutely nothing whilst the property sits decaying and empty.
 
On another point, I do not agree that foreign residents avoid the local Spanish businesses.

Obviously we guiris do not buy naff souvenirs or beach goods, but most of us also avoid the expensive ripoff Brit and Irish bars and restaurants in favour of the reasonably priced Spanish ones.
 
As an autonomo, I can tell you I had zero new business in the first six months of this year. Things are picking up slightly, but still nowhere near the expected level. There is speculation that there could be another global crash. Landlords, it seems they can't understand that keeping an empty property for a long time hurts them a lot more than having somebody in at a lower rent.
 
I must have expressed myself badly. Of course we go to Spanish businesses, it would be strange if we didn't. The bars and restaurants and so on. However, the shops in Mojácar are directed in general towards the tourist rather than the residential trade.
 
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