Consumer index continues to dip

Consumer index continues to dip

A policeman hands out free masks to tourists outside the Grand Palace on Jan 30, 2019. (Photo by Chanat Katanyu)
A policeman hands out free masks to tourists outside the Grand Palace on Jan 30, 2019. (Photo by Chanat Katanyu)

Consumer sentiment keeps falling, with the deadly virus outbreak adding to key concerns in addition to the delayed fiscal 2020 budget, the domestic economic slowdown and political instability.

The University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce (UTCC) on Wednesday reported the consumer confidence index dropped to 67.3 in January from 68.3 in December, 69.1 in November and 70.7 in October. It was the 11th straight monthly drop and the lowest level since May 2014.  

Thanavath Phonvichai, president of the UTCC, said consumers fretted over the coronavirus outbreak and its impact on the overall economy, especially for tourism. 

“The Fiscal Policy Office [FPO] recently downgraded Thailand's economic growth outlook to 2.8% this year after factoring in impacts from the deadly coronavirus and a further delay in the budget bill for fiscal 2020,” said Mr Thanavath.

The coronavirus outbreak, drought, the global economic slowdown and the delayed 2020 fiscal budget are estimated to cost around 220 billion baht worth of losses to the Thai economy.

The FPO also lowered its economic growth estimate for last year to 2.5%.

The Finance Ministry's think tank in October last year predicted the country's GDP growth would expand 2.8% in 2019 and 3.3% this year.

If the 2.5% growth projection for last year proves accurate, 2019 will have been the slowest growth in five years, and the 2.8% growth estimate for 2020 will mark a second consecutive year of growth below 3%.

Thailand's 2020 export value growth forecast was slashed to 1% from 2.6% projected earlier, while the import growth estimate was halved to 1.7% from 3.4% over the same period.

The private investment projection for this year was cut to 4.2% from 4.6% predicted previously, while private consumption was trimmed to 3.2% from 3.5%.

The FPO also lowered the forecast for public investment growth this year to 6.5% from 6.6% estimated earlier, while keeping the state consumption growth outlook at 2.5%.

"Nonetheless, given the spate of negative factors including the new deadly virus outbreak, the widespread drought, the world’s economic slowdown and the delay in the 2020 fiscal budget, the consumer confidence is also likely to stay lower this month," said Mr Thanavath.

"Overall consumers are expected to remain cautious on their spending at least until the second quarter of this year.”

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