Operators eager to reopen their stores
Modern trade operators are calling on the government to allow them to reopen their stores, saying their inventory is piling up and this could affect supply chains and future employment.
Thanavath Phonvichai, president of the University of Thai Chamber of Commerce, which conducted a survey between March 23 and April 17, said the reopening of retail stores will not only help drain existing inventories, but also let supply chains resume operations and result in higher employment.
In the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, Mr Thanavath said modern trade operators have geared up operations in the online channel, as evident by the sector's online sales growth of 73% in the first quarter and 89% in the second quarter.
Surong Bulkul, vice-chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, said people's shopping habits are expected to completely change after the pandemic. He urged the government to speed up rehabilitating the economy.
The reopening of retail stores on top of the supermarket or food zone will be one of the key drivers to help reboot the economy and create employment, Mr Surong said.
In a related development, the university yesterday said the quarterly modern trade sentiment index for the first quarter slumped to the lowest level in seven quarters, mainly due to the impact of the virus outbreak.
The pandemic led the government to announce a state of emergency, cancel visa exemptions and visa-on-arrival for 18 virus-hit countries, and temporarily suspend inbound flights to prevent a possible rapid increase in infections.
On top of that, Thailand has been suffering from widespread drought, PM2.5 toxic dust, poor export performance and relatively low farm prices.
The modern trade sentiment index stood at 47.2 points out of 100 in the first quarter, the lowest rate since the first survey made in the third quarter of 2018. The index was 51.1 in the fourth quarter of last year.