Rising costs leave Spaniards feeling isolated and anxious

by Enrique Anarte | @enriqueanarte | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Monday, 25 July 2022 09:45 GMT

Cristina Díaz in her grocery store in the southern Spanish city of Huelva on July 21, 2022. Thomson Reuters Foundation/Enrique Anarte

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The inflation diaries: Inflation of 10% is weighing on people's mental health, as many cut back on socialising and worry for the future

By Enrique Anarte

BERLIN, July 25 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Spanish house cleaner Damaris Dominguez and her husband Domingo have been looking forward to spending some quality time on holiday with their two daughters.

As rising prices cut into their disposable cash, the couple are unsure whether their budget will stretch to a summer break. Even socialising has become worryingly expensive.

Read more: The Inflation Diaries series

"You can't afford to go out that much, so you stop seeing your people, your friends, the people that were part of your life before," said Dominguez, 48, from the southern Andalusian city of Huelva.

"This situation is isolating us."

Spain's inflation has hit more than 10% – the highest in 37 years – as countries worldwide feel the impact of rising food and fuel prices largely caused by the war in Ukraine and the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The price of more than 90% of items in a basket of basic goods has gone up over 12 months to April, according to a study by market research firm Nielsen reported by the El Economista newspaper, with the cost of staple food pasta surging by 31% and oil by 75%. 

Dominguez is going to cheaper supermarkets and cutting back on expensive items such as fresh fruit in an effort to economise. Her husband, who works as a bartender in a beach town and has to commute every day, faces higher petrol costs as well.

"I used to go do the groceries and I would have more money left; now a note flies away with three items," she said.

Cristina Diaz, who runs a small grocery store in the city, is also noticing the impact of rising prices, both as a small business owner and a single mother.

"Customers complain more and more, and they opt for cheaper products. But I also have to pay more to my providers, so it's getting trickier to balance everything," the 33-year-old said.

"I'm an ordinary person too, you know? I also pay rent, the electricity bill. It gives me vertigo."

Cristina Díaz in her grocery store in the southern Spanish city of Huelva on July 21, 2022. Thomson Reuters Foundation/Enrique Anarte

'IT HURTS'

In an effort to lessen the impact of inflation, the government cut tax on power bills and will introduce temporary taxes on banks and power firms that should bring in 7 billion euros ($7.13 billion) in 2023-24 to help struggling Spaniards.

For many, though, it is not enough to ease the squeeze on their daily living costs.

University student Blue Rodriguez always worried about the high rents in Madrid after moving from the Canary Islands to study. Now rising costs are eating further into the 22-year-old's tight budget.

"Today I felt like treating myself to something nice for breakfast. But ... if I do it, I don't know if I'll have money left tomorrow," Rodriguez, who uses they/them pronouns, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Rodriguez, an aspiring singer and a lover of salsa, has also stopped taking lessons regularly - which they hoped would help them grow as an artist.

"You see well-off people partying in the same street where you live, but you can't afford to do what you love, or just go out. It hurts," said Rodriguez.

"When every single way of socialising involves spending money, your emotional wellbeing also suffers."

In Huelva, grocery store owner Diaz has taken a second job to make ends meet.

She commutes every afternoon to a nearby beach to sell ice creams to the tourists who flock to coastal Spanish towns in summer.

Her parents take care of her 6-year-old child while she is working.

"I'm not gonna think about the future," she said. "It's too overwhelming, so I just prefer to live day by day."

($1 = 0.9822 euros)

More from Part Two of The Inflation Diaries series:

Brazilian small businesses struggle to survive as food prices rise

Interest rate hikes add to Polish families' inflation pains

Inflation-weary Zimbabweans forced to find sidelines to survive

Turkish households despair as inflation nears 80%

Tunisians struggle to buy basics as prices rise, economy crumbles

(Reporting by Enrique Anarte @enriqueanarte; Editing by Sonia Elks. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit http://news.trust.org)

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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