Lifestyle market forecast to grow 5%
Online shipping to provide strong boost
Thailand's lifestyle products market is expected to grow by 5% this year, driven by the recovering economies of key trading partners.
Malee Choklumlerd, director-general of the International Trade Promotion Department, said Thai lifestyle products are now widely recognised globally for their quality, particularly in terms of design and innovation.
More importantly, the economies of the US, EU and China, all key importers, are gradually recovering.
Lifestyle products include furniture, home decor, artificial flowers, perfume, handicrafts, textiles, stationery, office supplies, toys and housewares.
Lifestyle product shipments fetched US$2.71 billion (93.3 billion baht) last year, down 2%. But the private sector claimed that export growth continued, saying that the value of cross-border online sales, which was not officially recorded as export value by the Customs Department, grew substantially.
Jirabool Vittayasing, secretary-general of the Thai Lifestyle Products Federation, said shipments of online sales have grown significantly, with certain companies enjoying online sales growth of up to 100%.
PayPal, the US-based digital payments giant, recently forecast that Thailand's online cross-border shopping would grow by 84% this year from 60 billion baht in 2016 as users gain confidence in online channels and seek certain products unavailable domestically.
Online cross-border shopping by Thai users has grown much faster than the country's overall e-commerce market, which combines the business-to-business and business-to-consumer segments.
Thailand is the third Southeast Asian country in which PayPal has opened a local office, after Singapore and Malaysia.
Payment transactions in Thailand have experienced double-digit growth over the past three years.
According to a 2016 study jointly conducted by PayPal and Paris-based market researcher Ipsos, the number of online shoppers in Thailand reached 7.9 million last year, with 2 million purchasing goods from websites based abroad.
Online cross-border shopping averaged 30,893 baht per head annually, compared to 41,215 baht for the overall e-commerce market.
Thailand's e-commerce spending is predicted to increase by 16% to 377 billion baht in 2017 and 426 billion in 2018 from about 326 billion in 2016.
The survey also found 55% of Thai respondents said they are willing to spend more online this year thanks to convenience, the expectation of faster shipping and savings.
Thai online cross-border shoppers have mostly bought three key categories of products: fashion, digital entertainment and education and consumer electronics.
But Mr Jirabool said the private sector remains concerned about foreign exchange risks caused by the US's unclear international trade policies.