Crowds in central Barcelona for Christmas shopping

Lines of over an hour in some stores on Saturday evening, despite authorities' call for caution amid pandemic new possible surge

A line of people waiting to enter stores in order to buy Christmas presents, on December 5, 2020 (by Carola López)
A line of people waiting to enter stores in order to buy Christmas presents, on December 5, 2020 (by Carola López) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

December 6, 2020 12:49 PM

Crowds were seen in central Barcelona on Saturday evening, specifically in its most commercial streets surrounding Plaça Catalunya, flooded with people willing to buy Christmas presents despite the pandemic.

Saturday marked the first day of a long weekend for a lot of people, since next Tuesday is a bank holiday and some are enjoying a four-day rest – and many of these are making the most of their time off to go Christmas shopping.

A Catalan News Agency (ACN) team witnessed lines of over an hour outside some stores – under the current restrictions, retail can only accept 30% of its total capacity, which contributed to the crowds, especially outside and not inside shops.

"Inside the stores there is room, but in the street there are too many people," said Marian, one of the shoppers seeking presents.

More people in the center after closure of shopping malls

"The lines are tremendous, if we are lucky we will wait for half an hour, and then we will only spend five minutes inside," said Ramon, who was aiming to buy a coat. Like many people, he went to the center since shopping malls in the surrounding neighborhoods are closed following the restrictions.

"You can oblige shops to control their capacity at 30%, but how do you monitor the situation in the streets," asked Sergi, also looking for gifts. He also wondered why, under the current de-escalation phase 1, shopping malls are closed, but department stores like El Corte Inglés can open.

"I have been waiting for an hour and a half, it is a disgrace. I find it normal that shopping malls do not want to open," said angrily Gemma on her way to reaching Primark's main gate amid the very cold temperatures.

"I do not like buying on a Saturday, I am more fond of buying in shopping malls during weekdays, but as I cannot do it, I do not think I will buy anything else [for Christmas], and if any, it will be on the internet," told ACN Vicky, who was seeking to take back an item bought during Black Friday.

Loss of 30% in Christmas sales on last year

Shoppers expected to sell around 10% of the total Christmas sales during this long weekend, but it does not look likely, since Catalonia will stay in reopening phase 1 so tight restrictions in retail will stay some more days.

Organizations like Comertia estimate at 30% the loss of Christmas sales on last year.

Health authorities were already expecting difficult days from Saturday since many are enjoying long weekends, despite their repeated calls for caution until Tuesday.

After several weeks of a downwards trend, the Covid-19 figures in Catalonia began to slightly worsen again. As a result, authorities delayed a progression in the de-escalation for two more weeks.