The study prepared by the Chamber’s Study Office highlights that the commerce sector, which includes both retail and wholesale establishments, as well as the sale and repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles, had 131,544 members of the Social Security, which represented a reduction of 3.7% compared to 2019, or, what is the same, 5,000 fewer workers. In this way, commerce concentrated about 40% of the jobs destroyed in the service sector and just over a quarter of the jobs lost in the province of Alicante.
The decrease in consumption is behind these negative figures. Retail sales, in particular, fell 5.4%, a setback that softened in the second half, after falling 8.9% in the first half of the year, when the restrictions for the prevention of the coronavirus were more significant. Sales of food and beverages fell by 0.2%, while those of non-food products did so by 9.1%, weighed down by the reduction in spending on personal equipment, compared to the better tone of sales in household equipment and in other types of goods.
130,000 jobs generated by commerce
At the end of last year, commerce had 131,544 members of the Social Security, which represents 20% of the total occupation in the whole of the province of Alicante.
42,000 Premises dedicated to commercial activity
As of January 1, 2020, the province had 42,655 stores dedicated to commercial activity. The sector has requested a study to find out how many have closed in the pandemic year.
According to the Chamber report, despite the fact that household consumption of food products has increased during the crisis, this increase has been insufficient to offset the drop in sales of food and beverages in the channel. Horeca, due to the suspension of the activity, to the limiting measures of capacity and hours in hotels, restaurants and cafeterias, and to the mobility restrictions that have caused a paralysis of the tourist activity.
The study, on the other hand, highlights the important weight that trade has on the Alicante economy. As of January 1, 2020, the latest data available, there were 42,655 active stores in the province dedicated to commercial activity. The sector, likewise, is the one that has a greater weight in the volume of occupation, representing 20% of the total. It is ahead of the industry, which accounts for 13%; construction, which covers 7.7%; and the agricultural sector, which remains at 3.7%. The hospitality industry represents 11%; health and social services activities, 8.6%; administrative activities and auxiliary services, 5.9%; and the public administration 4.7%.
Commerce also represents 16% of the province’s Gross Value Added (GVA), 5 percentage points more than industry, 7 more than construction and 14 more than agriculture.
The president of Facpyme, Carlos Bath, points out that they have requested a new, more up-to-date study through the Council of Chambers, «with the aim of having a more exhaustive analysis of the impact of the pandemic on the sector, especially with regard to the number of businesses that have been stayed and they continue to stay on the road ».
No news of direct aid or tax exemptions
The president of the Alicante Federation of Commerce (Facpyme), Carlos Baño, affirms that the sector continues without having news regarding direct aid from the central government. In his words, “at the moment, we have not been informed of how much money will go to trade, nor have we found any answer regarding our requests for tax exemptions.” Carlos Bath does not hide his concern regarding what may happen in the coming months, “because the pandemic is perpetuating, merchants have exhausted their savings and, on top of that, they will now have to start repaying the loans requested.”
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.