INDEPENDENT retailers could soon be forced to shut up shop when a 30-year-old agreement of below-market-rate rents ends next year.
The rental scheme – which has shielded retailers since 1985 – ends in January 2015 and could see retailers’ rent rise by up to 1,000%, according to self-employed workers and professionals body UPTA.
Industry experts have said 100,000 stores, bars and restaurants are ‘at risk of closure’ resulting in thousands of job losses.
Property expert Miguel Angel Sanchez Fraile said the agreement had ‘distorted the true market value’ which had in turn allowed for independent retailers to thrive.
He added: “There used to be a demand to rent commercial outlets and now there isn’t.”
“There is still a climate of worry in this recovery that hasn’t quite found its feet, although things are starting to get better in city centres.”
Standalone retailers with less than 10 members of staff employ 4.2 million people in Spain, making up 40% of the private sector workforce.
Industry experts are predicting the change in rental agreements could result in up to 10% of private workers losing their jobs.
Unemployment levels in Spain stand at 20% with the economy slowly recovering from the economic crisis.