Spending during the back-to-school period has been lacklustre as parents remain wary of higher costs, according to the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce (UTCC).
Thanavath Phonvichai, the vice-president for research and a director, said parents' overall spending during the period is estimated at 53.6 billion baht, a rise of 6.7% from the same period a year earlier.
The figure is well below the previous projection of 55 billion baht by the UTCC.
In a poll of 1,200 parents from May 1-5, most respondents said school items and tuition fees are more expensive now than a year ago.
Parents expect to pay an average of 9,128 per pupil for the new school term, a surge of 44.8% from last year.
Mr Thanavath said parents are spending more for the same amount of items such as uniforms, footwear, textbooks, learning materials and stationery.
Tuition fees are forecast to rise by 61.5% or 10,455 baht and school service fees by 77.8% or 7,400 baht per student.
"The back-to-school period is usually an economic indicator," said Mr Thanavath.
"More parents this year are spending with credit cards in place of cash."
The survey also found many parents wanting the government to extend the free 12-year education scheme, free student uniforms and student loans.
Mr Thanavath said most parents surveyed expect the state's One Tablet Per Child scheme to yield only moderate benefits, as the children use the free tablets just to play games.
Another growing concern is overall economic prospects as the baht strengthens.
Mr Thanavath said many small and medium-sized firms selling school items and kits have begun to feel the pinch of baht appreciation, and he urged the government to closely monitor the issue.
The central bank forecasts the baht in a range of 28.50 to 29 baht to the US dollar the next few months.
About the author
- Writer: Phusadee Arunmas
Position: Business Reporter