Small retailers' sales drop in 2022

Wages in the sector grew by 2% during the two years of the pandemic

2 min
A sales clerk and a customer in a store in Palamós, in an archive image.

BarcelonaSmall retailers in Catalonia have noticed in 2022 a drop in sales and in the sector's overall situation in comparison with last year, according to a study elaborated by Catalan SME association Pimec. Likewise, the sector's companies have difficulties to find qualified labour.

This Tuesday, Pimec published its survey on commercial activity for the first half of this year. According to 44% of respondents, sales have declined during the first six months of 2022 compared to the same period of 2021, and only 21% have experienced a growth in turnover. Thirty-four percent have maintained revenue.

The months of May and June were the busiest months, according to shopkeepers, followed by January. In the latter case, this was due to the effect of the Christmas campaign during the first week and, subsequently, the winter sales.

However, despite the high number of stores admitting to having reduced sales, only 17% say they have reduced staffing levels. In fact, 46% have had problems finding qualified workers, a figure that rises to 67% among SMEs in the catering sector. The director of Pimec's trade sector, Pilar Mínguez, recalled "the need for more specialised training" for the sector.

Among the factors that explain the lack of skilled labour are, according to traders, negative attitudes on the part of potential employees, lack of training, lack of experience and lack of availability. Only 1.4% of respondents consider low wages a cause of the difficulties in finding skilled workers.

Subdued wage growth

Wages in the retail trade are the focus of a second report, in this case also published on Tuesday but by Comertia, an organisation of family-owned companies in the retail sector in Catalonia. According to the document, remunerations in the sector rose 2% in the past two years, 2020 and 2021, half a point below the average increases of the entire labour market.

Despite the increases, workers have suffered a loss of purchasing power, since the prices of consumer goods and services rose by 7% in the same period, but unevenly. In this sense, thanks to the increase in the minimum wage, the lowest paid jobs had salary increases of up to 15%, while on average the best paid positions lost 4% of their salary, according to the study.