Consumer index continues slump

Consumer index continues slump

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

The University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce (UTCC) reported yesterday that 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 decline and the lowest level reached since May 2014.

Thanavath Phonvichai, president of the UTCC, said consumers were fretting 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," Mr Thanavath said.

The coronavirus outbreak, drought, the global economic slowdown and the delayed fiscal budget are estimated to cost 220 billion baht worth of losses to the Thai economy, said the FPO, which also lowered its economic growth estimate for last year to 2.5%.

The Finance Ministry's think tank last October predicted that GDP would expand by 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. The 2.8% growth estimate for 2020 would mark a second straight year of growth below 3%.

The FPO's 2020 export growth forecast was slashed to 1% from 2.6% projected earlier, while the import growth estimate was halved to 1.7% from 3.4%.

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 its 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 fiscal 2020 budget, consumer confidence is likely to stay lower this month," Mr Thanavath said. "Overall consumers are expected to remain cautious with their spending at least until the second quarter of this year."


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