Chinese New Year spending set to dip
Spending by Thais during the Chinese New Year festival is expected to drop for the first time in 12 years as people fret over economic uncertainties.
Thanavath Phonvichai, president of the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce (UTCC), said its latest survey on consumer spending behaviour during the Chinese New Year, which starts on Friday, Thais are expected to spend 57.6 billion baht, down 1.3% from the previous year.
"The key concerns of consumers are the country's economic slowdown, anticipated widespread drought and hazardous smog, making them cautious about spending and travel," he said.
Mr Thanavath said the university is scheduled to unveil economic loss projections from the dust problem next week.
He would not say whether the loss estimates would be higher than last year.
Last year, the university estimated ultrafine dust particles shrouding Bangkok and surrounding provinces would cost the economy 8-10 billion baht, as people opted to stay home and Bangkok's schools were ordered to close temporarily.
The haze also altered consumers' spending behaviour, with online purchases benefiting the most.
Mr Thanavath said the survey also found purchase volumes during the season are unchanged from the previous year as prices have risen.
Whichai Phochanakij, director-general of Internal Trade Department, said the department is keeping watch on prices during the festive season to prevent traders from profiteering.
To help alleviate living costs during the festive season and increase distribution channels for farm and processed farm products, the department is scheduled to organise a trade fair for such products during Jan 21-23 at the Commerce Ministry.
In terms of preventive measures for drought, Mr Whichai said the department is set to call a joint meeting with manufacturers, producers of key products and wholesalers and retailers soon.
At the meeting, the government will ask them to cap their prices to mitigate the impact on consumers for as long as possible.