Unease over shopping sector
Thailand's retail sector in the last quarter, the peak sales season, is far from getting back to normal as most shoppers still fret over leaving their homes.
As well, the number of big marketing events to stimulate consumer spending is also fewer than it should be due to uncertainties about the government's measures to cope with the pandemic, according to Achara Umpujh, executive vice-president of The Mall Group Co, one of the country's leading retail operators.
"The overall retail market in 2021 is much worse than last year," she said. "Although the overall prospects look brighter since the government allowed retail stores to reopen in early September with more customer traffic at restaurants, it will take time to call back customers' confidence even in the upcoming festive season later this year."
According to Mrs Achara, the celebration atmosphere is also likely to remain tepid as retailers do not dare allocate huge budgets for marketing activities due to weak consumer confidence and limited relaxation of the government's restrictions.
"For us, we are also wary of spending. We may create new marketing ways to prompt consumers to visit our physical retail stores. We will start an offensive plan next year after the Covid-19 situation gets better."
According to Mrs Achara, online shopping services The Mall Group launched in April this year are also expected to help strengthen the company's business in the year to come.
With lessons learned from the Covid-19 pandemic, she said the company is also conducting a feasibility study on a new successful business model for the group's Gourmet Market, to increase its competitiveness.
More Gourmet Market branches will be opened outside shopping complexes to reduce risks, she said.
According to Mrs Achara, with the uncertainties brought about by the pandemic, the company has also prepared business strategies under various scenarios to cope with the uncontrollable situations.
The company also remains committed to allocating over 2 billion baht each to makeover two flagship stores in Bang Khae and Bang Kapi next year and will completely transform them into "life stores'' over the next two years.
The move is part of its five-year roadmap to spend a total of 20 billion baht to renovate its stores in Sukhumvit including The Emporium, EmQuartier and Emsphere, which is expected to be completed in 2023.
"As people become familiar with online shopping, we will develop our retail stores to become more charming, full of fun and convenience to draw customers back to physical stores,'' Mrs Achara said.
The company plans to relaunch the entire new image of The Mall Tha Phra branch in December this year after spending 1.5 billion baht to makeover the store early this year to cash in on the changing retail landscape.