Modern trade remains jittery in Q2
Modern trade sentiment remained in the doldrums in the second quarter, as operators were still concerned about higher operation costs, the impact of political uncertainty, drought and the relatively low income of people living outside urban areas.
Thanavath Phonvichai, vice-president of research at the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce (UTCC), said despite growing pressure from those factors, modern trade operators are unable to raise their product prices.
Mr Thanavath said modern trade covers not only large retailers but also small shops nationwide that have shifted to using more applications or QR codes for their transactions.
The UTCC reported the Modern Trade Sentiment Index stood at 51.1 points out of 100 in the second quarter, down from 51.5 in the first quarter and 52.1 in the fourth quarter of 2018.
The index rose in the last quarter of 2018 because of an increase in foreign tourist arrivals at the end of the year, New Year's celebrations and relatively low oil prices.
The third quarter marked the first survey.
He said most business operators are upbeat about the third quarter, driven by the government's anticipated new economic measures, but remain worried about relatively low farm prices and sluggish exports from the ongoing trade row between the US and China.
Mr Thanavath said most business operators called for the new government to allow state-sponsored welfare smartcard holders to be able to buy goods at all retail shops, not only at the government's low-priced Thong Fah Pracha Rat shops.
There are 14.5 million welfare smartcard holders who receive 200-300 baht a month in living allowance.
Those earning less than 30,000 baht a year receive 300 baht a month, while people earning more than 30,000 baht a year but no more than 100,000 baht receive 200 baht a month.
Those who attended job training were given 100-200 baht more per month in monthly living allowance, depending on their actual income.
There were four additional measures to aid low-income earners, with the department giving a one-time cash handout worth 7.15 billion baht to the group to help with living costs; 247 million baht provided as a rent payment for elderly cardholders; 3.18 billion as travel expenses for the elderly; and 147 million to subsidise utility bills.