Readers of this week's Carmarthen Journal, at least those who live in the town or visit it regularly, will have been surprised to hear that the town is a roaring retail success, with big name stores queueing up to grab a slice of business.
The breathless style of the report and the careful slanting of the information will be familiar to regular readers of the guff churned out by the Press Office in County Hall.
Stripped back to its bones, this is an account of how Caffe Nero really wanted to find space in the flagship St Catherine's Walk shopping precinct, but will now have to settle for a spot in one of the less favoured parts of town (i.e. the rest of Carmarthen).
The managers of the St Catherine's Walk development and the older Merlin's Walk precinct are both quoted, and needless to say both give an upbeat account of what is happening in the town. True, the manager of Merlin's Walk admits that there are some empty shops in town, but avoids mentioning that there are quite a few vacancies on his own patch where fortunes have nosedived since St Catherine's Walk opened.
In fact, anyone who ventures beyond St Catherine's Walk will see how the new development has sucked the life out of older parts of the town. King Street is a shadow of its former self, as is Red Street (Millet's has just shut up shop, for example). Round the corner in Lammas Street and Merlin's Walk the story is the same. Shops are closing, local businesses are folding and people are losing jobs.
Away from the town centre, retail development on the fringes of Carmarthen continues unabated. We now have a shiny new KFC, and there are rumours that it will soon be joined by a vast new Asda, giving this town of around 16,000 inhabitants three very large supermarkets.
Clearly Carmarthen itself is not large enough to support a large Asda, Tesco and Morrisons, and the supermarket groups will be relying on attracting trade from surrounding villages and smaller towns. How many of those shoppers will make their way from the trading estate wasteland around the town into the ancient town centre itself is another matter.
And for those who don't want to trek over to Carmarthen to do their weekly grocery shop, Tesco and Asda both offer a keenly priced home delivery service. Asda home delivery vans have recently started appearing as far away as Cardigan and the surrounding villages, 30 miles away from the new Carmarthen HQ.
Meanwhile, an hour in a council car park in our struggling market towns will cost you 60p.