Saturday, 26 Sep 2020

Thai July consumer mood rises for 3nd month as virus restrictions ease

BANGKOK, Aug 7 (Reuters) – Thai consumer confidence increased for a third straight month in July due to relief measures and easing coronavirus restrictions, but concerns about unemployment and economic recovery weighed on spending, a university survey showed on Friday.

The consumer confidence index of the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce rose to 50.1 in July from 49.2 in June. But it was still near an all-time low of 47.2 hit in April, when the outbreak took a huge toll on tourism and domestic activity.

“Consumers felt the economy had bottomed out as the lockdown was eased and peoples’ lives got back to normal. But there was no clear recovery yet,” university president Thanavath Phonvichai told a briefing.

“They were still very worried about the economy and job losses because of the COVID-19 impact,” he said, adding consumer spending was likely to remain slow for the rest of the year.

The government needs to rush to stimulate the economy to prevent job losses, which are expected at 1-2 million in the fourth quarter, Thanavath said.

The university has forecast Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy will shrink by a record 9.4% this year, with the economic loss of at least 2 trillion baht ($64.18 billion).

In a bid to mitigate the outbreak impact, the government has introduced billions of dollars of stimulus measures, including a 1.9 trillion baht package.

Thailand has recorded no domestic virus transmission for more than two months and reopened most businesses, but foreign tourists are not yet allowed to return.

Thailand has shelved plans for a “travel bubble” agreement with select countries as new daily coronavirus cases rise in parts of Asia.

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