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Jan.1 will mark the end of an era in Spain – the abolition of rent controls that helped small businesses and preserved the historical identity of city centres by insulating them from property market pressures

In this picture taken Monday, Dec. 29, 2014, 89 year old Angel Garcia poses for a picture next to empty shelves during the shutdown of his store called "Hernando" after 57 years running in Madrid, Spain. About 200,000 mostly family-owned stores, bars and restaurants are affected by the law change that allows their landlords to raise rents to whatever they want.

Andres Kudacki/AP

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Mr. Garcia checks papers as an employee collects belongings during the shutdown of his store called "Hernando" after 57 years running in Madrid, Spain. An estimated 55,000 businesses are expected to close down over the coming weeks and months, wiping out around 120,000 jobs in a country which already has a 24 percent unemployment rate, labor groups say.

Andres Kudacki/AP

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A worker cleans and collects belongings as he looks at Burberrys display section, during the shutdown of Angel Garcia's store called "Hernando" after 57 years running in Madrid, Spain Tuesday, Dec. 30, 2014. Supporters of the current lease holders say Spain will lose part of its cultural identity as international chain franchises take over the spaces. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)

Andres Kudacki/AP

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A banner reading "Last sales of items and furniture due to store shutdown" is displayed during the shutdown of Angel Garcia's store called "Hernando" after 57 years running in Madrid, Spain Tuesday, Dec. 30, 2014.

Andres Kudacki/AP

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Employees makes the last sales as their co-workers wait to leave during the shutdown of Angel Garcia's store called "Hernando" after 57 years running in Madrid, Spain.

Andres Kudacki/AP

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A worker removes belongings during the shutdown of Angel Garcia's store called "Hernando" after 57 years running in Madrid, Spain.

Andres Kudacki/AP

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A ladder is placed next to empty closets during the shutdown of Angel Garcia's store called "Hernando" after 57 years running in Madrid, Spain.

Andres Kudacki/AP

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Mr. Garcia looks at a picture of former King of Spain, Alfonso XIII with his autograph, as he collects belongings during the shutdown of his store called "Hernando" after 57 years running in Madrid, Spain.

Andres Kudacki/AP

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Mr. Garcia prepares to leaves after items and furniture had been removed during the shutdown of his store called "Hernando" after 57 years running in Madrid, Spain.

Andres Kudacki/AP

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A worker cleans next to packed boxes during the shutdown of Angel Garcia's store called "Hernando" after 57 years running in Madrid, Spain Tuesday, Dec. 30, 2014.

Andres Kudacki/AP

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Mr. Garcia gestures next to empty shelves during the shutdown of his store called "Hernando" after 57 years running in Madrid, Spain.

Andres Kudacki/AP

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