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Soaring energy prices push inflation in Spain up to 37-year high

Spanish inflation has surged to a near 37-year high due to sky-high energy prices following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, official data showed Wednesday, adding pressure to the government.

Soaring energy prices push inflation in Spain up to 37-year high
Inflation had already risen above 6 percent in Spain before Russia's invasion of Ukraine pushed energy prices up even further. (Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO / AFP)

The rate jumped to 9.8 percent in March from 7.6 percent in February, its highest level since May 1985, according to a preliminary estimate from national statistics institute INE.

“It is a bad figure which affects our economy, especially more vulnerable groups … due to runaway energy prices,” Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez told parliament.

Like the rest of Europe, Spain has been struggling since last year with soaring energy prices, with households and businesses struggling to pay electricity bills.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, oil prices have spiked, and Spain’s transport and farm sectors have staged noisy protests and strikes to demand help with crippling gasoline prices.

The spike in prices in March was due to the surge in electricity and fuel prices, but also by the rise in the cost of food items due to the war, the statistics office said.

READ ALSO: The food products that are more expensive than ever in Spain

Sánchez’s government approved Tuesday plans to offer €16 billion ($17.5 billion) in direct aid and loans for companies and households hit by the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The measures, which will remain in place until June 30th, include a discount of 20 cents per litre of fuel, with the government paying 15 cents and fuel providers the rest.

It also includes a €362-million aid package for the agriculture and farming sector, €68 million for the fishing and aquaculture industries
and a two percent cap on rental increases.

For households, over the next three months, rent increases will be limited to a maximum of 2.0 percent.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED – The plan to lessen Ukraine war impact on Spain’s economy

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MONEY

Black Friday in Spain: What you should be aware of

Here's what you need to know about the Black Friday sales in Spain in 2022, from when they start to which retailers are offering discounts and why the sales aren't always as good as they're made out to be.

Black Friday in Spain: What you should be aware of

Black Friday is the day when some of Spain’s biggest retailers hold huge sales and give massive discounts (or so they claim) in the run-up to the start of the Christmas shopping season.

The tradition originated in the US as it was held the day after Thanksgiving.

READ ALSO: Where Americans can celebrate Thanksgiving

While Spain doesn’t generally celebrate the American Thanksgiving holiday, it does however go in for Black Friday in a big way, along with many other countries around the world.

Spain began getting in on the Black Friday action in 2011 when the regulations on promotions and sales changed.

When is Black Friday?

This year, Black Friday will be held on Friday November 25th, but many companies and online retailers decide to hold sales throughout the month or even extend them for a whole week instead of just one day.

For example, tech store MediaMarkt began giving discounts on November 1st and will continue its sales until November 30th, while Mr. Wonderful began its discounts early too on November 18th.

Inditex group (which includes clothes stores Zara, Pull & Bear, Massimo Dutti, Bershka, Oysho and Stradivarious) will publish their discounts online on Thursday November 24th.

Many stores will also extend their offers until Monday November 28th, which has become known as Cyber Monday. On this day, more tech companies and online retailers will be offering discounts too.

What will there be discounts on?

There will be Black Friday sales in Spain on everything from fashion and beauty to sports equipment, homeware and technology, among others.

Businesses are also allowing the return periods to be extended until January 6th 2023 or even into February, so that people can start their Christmas shopping early.

Spanish stores such as Mango, Zara and El Corte Inglés will all be having sales, as well as international and online retailers such as Amazon and Primark.

Swedish furniture giant Ikea will be doing something a little different this year, having a Green Friday where they’ll buy back some of your old furniture. 

According to a study by online marketing company Webloyalty, it is expected that online spending will grow by 25 percent compared to 2021, despite the rise in the cost of living and the financial squeeze many are experiencing.

Are Black Friday sales in Spain really that good?

Research conducted by Spanish consumer watchdog OCU over the past seven years has proven that many shops put the prices of their products up before Black Friday, so that the discounts they then apply aren’t really bargains for shoppers, but businesses get to capitalise on the shopping frenzy. 

In 2021, OCU spent 30 days writing down prices for almost 17,000 products in 52 stores. Almost a third of them rose in price (32.5 percent of the products), 11.8 percent of which cost less in the week of Black Friday. Overall, an average price rise of 3.3 percent was calculated.

There’s even a Twitter hastag #timofertasBF ( abit like ‘ripofferBF’) where user post the products that claim to be on discount but really aren’t.

Therefore, when it comes to big purchases in particular, make sure that you’re familiar with the average price of the product before Black Friday by comparing prices online. That should help you to ascertain whether you’re actually getting a good offer. 

If it’s a top-of-the-range product that’s just been released, don’t expect it to be on sale, and if it is, you should be suspicious.

Watch out for Black Friday scams

Be aware that while Black Friday can mean some great bargains, it’s also a day that brings out scammers and people who are waiting to steal your personal details.

In the past, there have been situations where second-hand items never arrive, the setup of fake online stores and discounts that contain malware.

You should particularly look out for phishing scams, where people try to steal your identity or personal details and fraudulent text messages.

Experts agree that there are several ways to protect yourself against potential Black Friday fraudsters including avoiding suspicious links or online shops you’re not aware of, using only official websites, creating strong passwords, not trusting any discounts that seem way too good to be true and using online security software.

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