Almost nine months after the first state of alarm was decreed in Spain as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, no one can doubt that the health crisis has had some devastating consequences on the country’s economy, a debacle that has inevitably also hit Andalusia hard.
Not surprisingly, the macroeconomic estimates of the Board, endorsed by the Independent Authority for Fiscal Responsibility (AIReF), point to a drop in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for this year of 11.4% and a reduction in employment of 4.2%.
Precisely with regard to the labor market, the offices of the Andalusian Employment Service (SAE) registered last October a increase of 9,506 unemployed, to a total of 965,407, according to the latest data from the Ministry of Labor, with 15,065 fewer affiliates to Social Security compared to the same month last year and a year-on-year increase in unemployment of more than 22%.
Nor are the numbers of companies registered in Social Security promising. And it is that of the 253,734 that there were in January of this year in Andalusia it has fallen back to 239,092 in October, which is decrease of almost 6%, which has been accompanied by a fall of close to 4% in what is referred to as employed workers, from 2,150,000 to just over two million.
In this context, tourism and hospitality, as they are two of the sectors that contribute the most to the community’s GDP –14% and about 7%, respectively– and that generate the most jobs, have been positioned as those most affected by a crisis that has forced many businesses to close the blind forever. Both sectors demand direct aid from the administrations to “survive”, dissatisfied in both cases with the rescue plan that the Board has launched, with 667 million euros for the most affected sectors.
But they are not the only ones who are suffering in their flesh the consequences of a pandemic that began at the worst possible moment for many businesses.
And it is that the spring festivals, in Andalusia in general, and in Seville in particular, generate the highest turnover for establishments such as florists or dry cleaners and for professionals such as dressmakers. Because although both Easter and the Fair are now far away, the consequences of its cancellation still weigh on the shoulders of those who, today more than ever, face a very uncertain future.
First person cases
Mari Ángeles Sánchez, owner of the Sevilla en Flor florist
María Ángeles accumulates 30 years as a florist and almost a decade in charge of the establishment Seville in Flower, in Los Remedios (51 Asunción Street, pedestrian section). And in all this time, this is, “without a doubt”, the worst crisis ever. The pandemic, tells 20 minutesIt is affecting “a lot”, because the main campaigns, which are Easter and Fair, “have been lost”, and the Day of the Dead, “with the perimeter closure, has also been largely lost” .
Calculate that the volume of business of your establishment will fall this year “50% or more”, because the mentioned campaigns also include the “cancellation of weddings, communions and all kinds of events.” In short, “many appointments suspended since the pandemic began in March.”
Next year does not look too good either, with Easter and the Fair in the air. Faced with this panorama, Mari Ángeles face the future trying to renew “with another type of gender, making more centers of dried flower …”. But this reinvention is not easy, he says, because “we live mainly from events and if they have all been canceled, we have it very difficult.”
She does admit that fortunately she continues to have a “very good year-round” clientele who come every week or every ten days to decorate their houses. And that these types of clients have also grown up with confinement. “Before people were less at home and worried less about decorating their balconies, and now they care more and want more flowers at home,” says this florist, but points out that that’s not enough to survive, although “thanks to them we are supporting ourselves.”
Mari Ángeles also regrets an added problem of “great competition”. And it is that “we now have to close at 18.00, but the large stores, which are crushing us, are open and also sell plants and flowers“and other types of products, something that he considers” unfair “for small businesses, behind which” there are many families and workers. “And” as this does not change, we are all going to ruin, “he says.
As for government aid, florists are “a bit in the air”, both these businesses and farmers, “who are the ones who plant, and if we don’t sell, neither do they.” For this reason, Mari Ángeles makes an appeal, because “we are not only governed by the hospitality industry”, and claims that “Everyone, in general, help us a little more”.
Despite the difficult situation, Mari Ángeles does not even want to think about closing. “I have been a florist for 30 years and it has been difficult for me to have my own business and maintain it. I will fight tooth and nail to the end“, he concludes.
María de los Ángeles Urquiza, owner of the Urquiza dry cleaning company in Seville and vice president of the Andalusian Dry Cleaning and Laundry Association.
“Emotionally we are very bad, there are many nights without sleep.” This is how Mari Ángeles, owner of the Urquiza Tintorería de Sevilla, expresses it. this year celebrates its 50th anniversary. And she, as the third generation of a family saga of dyers, categorically affirms that “this is the worst crisis” she can remember.
The pandemic came at the worst time for this type of business, which, in Andalusia in general and in Seville in particular, mainly lives off the spring festivities. “The We have the highest percentage of sales with Easter, the Fair, weddings, communions… and all that stopped in its tracks “, Mari Ángeles tells 20 minutes. “That is what sustains us for the rest of the year and now, instead, we are working at 25% of usual,” he continues, calculating that 2020 will end with a 75% drop in business volume.
May is also high season “for the change of wardrobe”. Customers take their winter and spring clothes to the dry cleaners to keep them clean, “but since this year it has barely been out on the streets, people have dressed less.” The same happens with teleworking. “If you don’t go to work at the office, you don’t have to wear a suit and you don’t get stained either”, says Mari Ángeles. Ultimately, they live “from the moments when there are crowds in the street, just what is now prohibited.”
For dyers, he continues, reinventing themselves is not easy, but they try to do it with “home services and garment repairs, to expand the business a bit.” And above all, “supporting each other a lot” through Association of Dry Cleaners and Laundries of Andalusia (Tylda), which since March 15 has stopped charging its partners, “for having a detail with them.”
But the situation is very complicated, because “the staff is still in ERTE or with reduced working hours, but you have to continue paying insurance and paying the rents of the premises“. That staff in ERTE will also have to rejoin in the same conditions in which they worked before,” but by then, the economy will be bad and the volume of work will be much lower, “says the business owner Urquiza.
In addition, in the first confinement “there was a lot of confusion” and “considering us an essential activity, we could not take advantage of government aid“laments Mari Ángeles, who assures that the aid that is available” is totally insufficient. “
The forecasts for the future are also a bit black, with Easter and the Fair in the air. And even, “even if there was Easter, the robes were clean this year, so they wouldn’t bring them to us.” The only consolation, says Mari Ángeles, is that the municipalities “change the period of celebrations, as was initially intended this year with the Fair “and its move to September. So hopes are pinned, in the best of cases, for autumn 2021.
Even so, says the businesswoman, “you have to be strong, think positive, reduce expenses … but never close”, as “many such emblematic shops in Seville have done, and it’s a shame”. “We have to fight to the end because the pandemic will not be able to with the dyers of Andalusia“, he concludes.
Veronica, 42 years old, pattern maker
At 42, Verónica has been dedicating herself to pattern making and sewing for 19 years and, in all these years, has not stopped working, “until now”, who has even had to terminate herself as a freelancer, even though she continues to work, “because they force you to do so, even if you want to do things well.”
She is one of the many people who are suffering the effects of the pandemic and the cancellation of all kinds of parties and events. “The suspension of the Fair is what has affected me the most”, assures 20 minutes, although he has also noticed the cancellation of Easter and weddings. “I’m having a very bad time,” he says.
And is not for less. His situation changed radically in March after the death of his mother, with whom he lived. “Now I have to face all the expenses alone“, a situation that is not proving easy in the current context.
Verónica has a sewing workshop in Seville, but “I’m considering closing it if this continues “. And the thing is, “although I still have clients, I don’t have enough to maintain the workshop and support myself,” she explains. It is given until January, with the hope of receiving aid that it has requested from the State. If they give them, “I’ll see how I get ahead”, but if they don’t come, “I’ll quit.”
And by leaving it, Verónica also refers to her profession. “I like my workshop so much that if I close it, I find myself unable to sew at home.” A decision that will not be easy for you because “I love what I do, it is my life, besides my work it is also my hobbyIt is the only thing that makes me evade and the only thing I enjoy life with, “he says.