The average lifespan of a small clothes shop opening in Rome is two years, as opposed to an average of ten years before the introduction of the euro in 2002. A crisis is affecting all clothes and shoe shops in Rome and particularly those on the outskirts of the city where the tourists never arrive.

The figures were contained in a report released by the federation of clothing retailers and the chamber of commerce at the end of the summer sales, which most shopkeepers claim were a failure with an eight per cent fall in takings compared to 2004. Many of the shops which close do so because the owners are unable to obtain loans from the banks or because they are being forced out of business by unfair competition from illegal street traders, often selling unauthorised copies of designer goods.

When clothes shops close they are being replaced by businesses offering services such as internet and telephone points, and by estate agencies.