Unemployment in Spain rose for the fifth month in succession in December to a new record since the crisis began.
The government says more than 4.4 million people were out of work; the national statistics body puts the figure at nearly five million.
Labour Ministry said the figures confirmed the deterioration in the country’s economic situation over the second half of the year.
The overall percentage was not given but last month the new prime minister put the figure at 23 percent, more than twice the European Union average.
Sales of new cars fell by more than 17 percent last year to their lowest level since 1993. Manufacturers blame unemployment, a lack of confidence and credit restrictions.
Traders are pinning their hopes on the January sales which promise some substantial discounts amid reports that many people put off spending before Christmas.
“It’s not that families are better off, the thing is that families have waited for the sales to buy things they couldn’t buy before,” said Gustavo Samayoa, chairman of the Independent Consumers Federation.
As Spain seeks ways to kick-start the economy, new labour reform plans are awaited this week. The government has called on unions and employers to reach agreement.