The retail sector lost 500 billion baht in 2020, while the retail index for the first quarter this year is expected to fall by 7-8%, according to the latest predictions by the Thai Retailers Association (TRA).
In response, the TRA has requested the government to provide urgent assistance to stimulate the economy and bring rising unemployment under control.
The government should also offer hourly employment as an option for retailers which the association estimates could see an extra 52,000 people drafted into the workforce almost immediately, rising to 200,000 in the long run.
The association dismissed complaints that an hourly wage would affect permanent positions, instead arguing that retailers would have more efficent methods at their disposal to manage peak and off-peak hours which would result in the need for less redundancies overall.
The TRA also suggested suggests imposing import and value-added tax on e-commerce transactions and controlling the sector so that prices are not allowed to fall below costs in a bid to protect Thai SMEs and the Thai retail system as a whole.
Yol Phokasub, president of the TRA, said that retail is the cornerstone of the country's entire economy with its 1.3 million operators and 6.2 million employees.
Due to the pandemic, the 2020 TRA retail index fell from 2.8% in 2019 to negative 12% in 2020 -- the first time the index had seen a double-digit negative figure.