The Spanish government is turning to ‘shopping’ in a bid to help boost the economy through increased domestic spending. The two-pronged approach, which the government hopes will produce the needed financial growth, centres on easing the legislation around shop opening hours and reducing the commission on debit and credit cards.

Deputy PM, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, announced the move earlier this month and stated that it would simplify the regulations for high street stores and that a further 14 shopping areas would be completely free of restrictions.  The first shopping areas to have autonomy over their opening hours were announced in 2012 and now Almería, Jerez de la Frontera and Marbella in southern Spain have been added to the list.

The Marbella town hall has six months to submit a shortlist of what it considers the most vital commercial spots for tourism in the municipality. This is a welcome piece of news for local Marbella businesses, who will be able to provide a better service to residents and visitors alike.

In addition, Sra Sáenz de Santamaría announced that the commission on debit and credit card payments for below 20 euros will be reduced to 0.1% and 0.2% respectively. It is hoped this will encourage shop owners to accept cards for smaller amounts. Currently, many shops have restrictions on the amounts that they will accept a card for. Shoppers may not be aware that the reason for this refusal is because the commission on accepting cards reduces the traders’ often narrow profit margin.

The new legislation also caps the commission banks can charge on purchases over 20 euros at 0.2% for debit cards and 0.3% for credit cards. Nor can the banks try to impose any other charges as a way of making up for the reduced commission.

Clearly, while this legislation should encourage tourist spending, it will also have benefits for Marbella residents who will have more convenient shopping times and can use their cards when cash isn’t available.