Thailand’s retail sentiment lifted by more than 40 per cent last month, as the government eased social distancing restrictions relating to the Coronavirus pandemic.
The Asian nation’s Retail Sentiment Index surged by 43 per cent in February, compared to January, said the Thai Retailers Association, which partnered with the Bank of Thailand to conduct an online survey from 15th to 23rd February on over 27,000 retailers nationwide.
The TRA found that Thai retailers’ same-store sales, spending per transaction and the frequency of shopping rose month-on-month, compared to January. Thailand’s consumer traffic and purchasing power also improved in February, as the uncertainty over Covid-19 spreading eased for consumers, and retail stores started to reopen.
Consumer confidence in restaurants, food and beverage stores also increased, pushing up the average transaction value, said the TRA. Likewise, Thailand’s consumer confidence index rose to 49.4 in February from 47.8 in January, according to the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce.
The increase was the first consumer confidence rise in three months in the country, following readings of 50.1 in December and 52.4 in November.
The UTCC accredited the spike in consumer confidence to the government’s recent economic stimulus packages, especially the Rao Chana (We Win) financial relief scheme, which boosted consumer spending.
The UTCC said economic growth is predicted to increase 1.5% in the first half of 2021 and 4.5% in the second half, with full-year growth of 2.8-3% this year, it said.
“Thailand is likely to see a clearer sign of economic recovery from the second quarter this year if the country’s vaccination plans become more apparent, and if the country is more open to foreign tourists,” said Thanavath Phonvichai, UTCC’s president.
“This will bolster consumer sentiment from the second quarter onwards,” added Phonvichai.
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Looking forward, the TRA said the government needs to assist retailers in remaining open, by boosting liquidity by reducing taxes, granting soft loans and offering hourly employment.