Consumer confidence lowest since 1999

Consumer confidence lowest since 1999

Consumer confidence slumped to a 21-year low in April as the public remained worried about the poor economy, unemployment and future income because of the coronavirus.

The University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce (UTCC) reported yesterday that the consumer confidence index fell to 47.2 last month from 50.3 in March. This was the 14th straight monthly decline and the lowest level since October 1999.

Thanavath Phonvichai, president of the UTCC, said economic conditions are at a critical level and consumer spending is unlikely to recover for at least 3-6 months until the virus is under control, all business sectors are allowed to reopen and the government's stimulus measures produce concrete results for the economy.

He said the lower confidence stems from consumers' expectation that the economy will fall into a depression with weakened domestic purchasing power, tourism, exports and employment.

The farm sector remains stunted by drought, while farm prices are still relatively low, Mr Thanavath said.

The university estimates that the pandemic will cause damage of up to 1.5 trillion baht in the first half of the year: 700 billion baht in lost tourism revenue, 300 billion baht from lower private consumption and the rest from lower exports and border trade.

The recent easing of measures for certain businesses by the government is estimated to result in up to 3 billion baht in added spending per day, Mr Thanavath said.

Starting last Sunday, the government allowed outdoor markets, barbershops and pet groomers to start reopening after new daily coronavirus cases dropped into the single digits.

The curfew and a ban on alcohol sales will remain until the end of May.

Six categories that reopened were small retailers, street food stalls and restaurants outside shopping malls, and parks and outdoor sports facilities.

But department stores, cinemas, gyms and spas, as well as most indoor sports venues, are closed to ensure no large gatherings.

Mr Thanavath said that if the government goes through with further easing on May 17, an additional 6-8 billion baht in daily spending is expected.

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