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Hard times for La Línea’s businesses

La Línea’s businesses have seen sales go down 12.5% in the first three weeks of July, compared to sales figures from the same period in pre-pandemic 2019.

A survey carried out by the small business organisation, the Asociación de Asesoramiento y Desarrollo Empresarial de La Línea de la Concepción (AADELL), suggests that the hoped-for post-pandemic boost to commerce has not occurred, and is particularly concerning given that the survey covered the city’s festival and Fair season.

AADELL surveyed 17 service establishments (bars/restaurants, travel agents and supermarkets), 40 small businesses in different points in the city and 50 stalls in the street market.

The survey discovered while the sales of staple goods had gone up 12.3% when compared to pre-pandemic days, and there had been a 4.3% rise in purchases of services, the street market stall holders had seen the loss of 45% of their business.

For the city’s small businesses, the losses average out to 24.6%, but the story is mixed.

The shops in the city centre have lost a significant amount of custom (60% at worst), while businesses in Alcaidesa, Venta Melchor and Santa Margarita have witnessed some growth.

AADELL president Fran López highlighted the effects of the pandemic, poor use of technology, the lack of variety on offer, the street market’s new home and the current economic climate on the city’s businesses.

“The situation is grave,” he said.

“We need to promote technology and online sales in traditional commerce [click and collect].”

“We are [also] working on the concept of an open-air shopping mall, as long as the shop owners are willing to open on Saturday afternoons and commit to this vital innovation.”

Furthermore, both AADELL and the city council are collaborating on an information campaign promoting ‘tax-free’ shopping for the Gibraltarian customer.

A company, Innova Tax Free, has been contracted to develop a system whereby IVA is refunded automatically to customers resident in territories there is no Value-Added Tax.

Mr López explained that, currently, only 15 of the 83 member-businesses in AADELL have an automatic IVA refund system.