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Illegal street sales in Catalonia generate a turnover of about €100 million per year

Illegal street sales, colloquially called in Catalonia ‘top manta’, is a daily problem that police and councils face and find difficult to solve. This non authorized business has a turnover of about €100 million per year. Coinciding with the beginning of the tourist season, the Confederation of Commerce of Catalonia (CCC) has started a new campaign called ‘Estirem de la manta’ (‘Pull the blanket’) to deal with this irregular practice. The objective: to raise awareness of the social and economic harm of this illegal activity with tourists and natives in order to tackle the problem. The CCC estimates that there are about 2,500 people currently working in this prohibited business in Catalonia.


16 July 2012 10:03 PM


Esther Romagosa / Laura Quintana

Barcelona (ACN).- \u2018To discover the hidden face of \u2018top manta\u2019\u2019. This is what the Confederation of Commerce of Catalonia (CCC) is highlighting in their new campaign against the illegal street sales (colloquially called \u2018top manta\u2019). Although police forces and councils face this problem every tourist season, street selling is now becoming a common sight in Catalonia. The aim of the CCC\u2019s new campaign called \u2018Estirem de la manta\u2019 (\u2018pull the blanket\u2019) is to tackle this situation raising awareness of social and economic harm it causes. Tourists and natives will receive a leaflet detailing the hidden dark side of these sales. According to the CCC, the illegal street sales reach a turnover of about \u20AC100 million per year, and there are about 2,500 people working in this prohibited business.

Sun glasses, the new albums of worldwide artists, new films on DVD and counterfeit handbags or purses. These are the kind of things that natives and tourists can find in the \u2018top manta\u2019. Although buying the new album of your favourite singer at a much reduced price can be tempting, buying it has negative economic and social consequences. That is what the new campaign of the Confederation of Commerce of Catalonia (CCC) is highlighting. \u201CNot only is it damaging for the local trade, but also for the vendors themselves, who are suffering situations of exploitation\u201D, says the deputy secretary general of the CCC, Emiliano Maroto.

The CCC recognizes the increased awareness of the Government and the councils, and the positive effect of older campaigns to raise awareness amongst consumers. However, according to Maroto, they predict that the illegal street sales will increase in the future because of the strong economic crisis that is affecting the country.

Around Catalonia

The long campaign has started simultaneously in Barcelona and Tarragona and has a two-fold objective. Firstly, to stop, not reduce this situation. Secondly, to defend the people working in this illegal sector, usually immigrants. To do so, the campaign promoters will try to raise economic and social awareness of the problem.

The CCC together with the Government, the council of Barcelona and 12 more councils from the coast will work together to achieve these two objectives. In the Costa Daurada, the towns of Calafell, Comarruga, Salou, and Cambrils are part of this initiative. In the Costa Brava the main town taking part in the campaign is Roses. However, La Jonquera, the main city next to the border with France, has asked to participate in it as well.

In the capital of Catalonia, Barcelona, the campaign takes places in the main touristic areas such as Plaça de Catalunya, Güell Park, Port Vell, and the surroundings of the Sagrada Familia.

In total, the campaign will distribute 40.000 leaflets in Catalonia to tackle the illegal street sales. These are in Catalan, Spanish, English, French, Italian, Greek, and Russian since the purpose of the initiative is to inform both natives and tourists.

Integrating the \u2018top manta\u2019 workers into legal business This kind of business illegally occupies public spaces, creates unfair competition with the legal trade, gives no guarantee to the consumer, and is a hidden crime network with situations of labour exploitation. It is in this last instance that the CCC started the campaign \u2018El comerç t\u2019acull\u2019 (\u2018trade welcomes you\u2019) to integrate immigrants into the legal commerce sector. According to Maroto, in 2011 the newcomers were integrated in 2,500 businesses.

Police forces also involved

The police forces in Catalonia are also trying to tackle the illegal street sales. In the second week of July the Guàrdia Civil confiscated 1,968 counterfeit apparel and leather products, valued at 152,790 euros in Roca del Vallès and they arrested a citizen of Senegalese origin, an inhabitant of Tarragona and alleged perpetrator of intellectual property crime.


  • There is a new campaign against illegal street sales (by ACN)

  • Confiscated products by the police forces in Catalonia (by ACN)

  • There is a new campaign against illegal street sales (by ACN)
  • Confiscated products by the police forces in Catalonia (by ACN)