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Small businesses left reeling by economic turmoil of Covid-19

Small companies already battered by larger competitors bear the brunt of downturn


23 October 2020 10:26 AM


ACN | Barcelona

The Covid-19 pandemic and its ensuing economic downturn, with Catalonia’s GDP dropping 21% in the second quarter, have left many businesses reeling, especially SMEs. 

With health and safety restrictions limiting their activity, sometimes severely, and a decrease in foreign visitors evidencing their overreliance on tourism, many of these small businesses have had to call it quits in the past few months.

PIMEC, a multisectoral business co-federation focusing on small and medium sized companies, has announced that 35% of commercial premises in Catalonia are now empty. 

In the city of Lleida, with one of Europe’s largest shopping districts, 17 mainly smaller shops in the commercial area shut down in March. 

However, 71 had already been vacant before, meaning one fifth of Lleida’s stores are currently unused.

Lack of travellers to Catalonia

The pandemic has resulted in a large drop in visitors to Catalonia, with tourism down by 81.6% in the area in July. 

The dependence on revenue from people vacationing in Catalonia is evident in some cities.

In Girona, a city in northern Catalonia, 40 premises are now unoccupied. The Old Quarter has been hit considerably, as many shops linked to touristic activity are now shut. 

New restrictions threaten small companies

In mid-October, new restrictions were announced regarding the growing rates of coronavirus cases in Catalonia.

The traders association in the Catalan towns of Vic, Berga, Igualada and Manresa have said they find themselves in a dangerous situation. 

Since restaurants and bars have been forced to shut, they have seen their footfall decrease, affecting their commerce.

In Mataró, just north of Barcelona, business owners have also voiced these same concerns, stating that the closure of the hospitality sectors has scared clients away.


  • A closed down shop in the center of the town of Igualada in Catalonia, October 23, 2020 (by Mar Martí)

  • A closed down shop in the center of the town of Igualada in Catalonia, October 23, 2020 (by Mar Martí)