Rising Barcelona rents eroding historic districts

Traditional stores are being squeezed out by big international brands


IN the centre of Barcelona's scenic old city, a once-historic bookshop is being turned into a store for Mango, the giant clothing retailer. A maker of combs, founded in 1922, is now a big-name bag store. And a toy store, owned by the same family since the Spanish Civil War, has been converted into an outlet for Geox, the Italian footwear company.

The changes are more than the result of the kind of creeping gentrification that has reshaped so many cities worldwide. Here, and across Spain, historic districts are being transformed as tens of thousands of small, often family-run shops face the end of decades of rent controls this year.

It is not that the establishments did not know the changes...

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