Consumer confidence falls for ninth month

Consumer confidence falls for ninth month

A vendor pushes an ice-cream cart near the Kasatsuek intersection in Bangkok. The lacklustre economy resulted in even lower consumer sentiment in last month's survey by the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce. (Photo by Panupong Changchai)
A vendor pushes an ice-cream cart near the Kasatsuek intersection in Bangkok. The lacklustre economy resulted in even lower consumer sentiment in last month's survey by the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce. (Photo by Panupong Changchai)

Consumer confidence fell further in September, dropping for a ninth straight month and hitting a 16-month low as people remained concerned about tepid domestic and global economic conditions.

A survey by the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce (UTCC) released yesterday showed the consumer confidence index fell to 72.1 points last month from 72.3 in August.

That was the lowest reading since May 2014, after which confidence began rising on hopes of an economic rebound after the military coup ended months of unrest.

"Thai consumer confidence is far from recovering," said Thanavath Phonvichai, vice-president for research.

"People remain worried about uncertainty regarding the global and Thai economic recoveries, while shipments have yet to see signs of recovery and farm prices remain low."

The Commerce Ministry on Monday reported exports fell sharply by 6.69% year-on-year in August to a value of US$17.7 billion.

That performance was the second worst this year after a 7.87% year-on-year decline in June, which was the biggest drop since an 8.15% fall in December 2011.

Shipments of agricultural and agribusiness products fell by 8% year-on-year to $2.73 billion in August, while industrial goods slipped by 3.2% to $13.9 billion.

For the first eight months of 2015, exports amounted to $143 billion, down by 4.92% year-on-year.

Agricultural and agribusiness products for the period dropped by 6.5% year-on-year to $221 billion, while industrial goods fell by 3.2% to $112 billion.

Bleak export prospects recently prompted the Thai National Shippers' Council to forecast Thai shipments would slip into a full-year contraction of 5% or more, citing the slow pace of the global economic recovery and increased foreign exchange volatility.

Mr Thanavath said consumer confidence was expected to improve gradually from the fourth quarter once money from the government's new stimulus packages was injected into the economic system.

"The fourth quarter is considered a vital period," he said. "If the government rapidly injects money into the economy during this time, it will help to create momentum for domestic economic growth next year."

In a related development, the UTCC projected spending during the Vegetarian Festival from Oct 13-21 would edge up only 2.9% this year to 42.2 billion baht.

Mr Thanavath said the sluggish economy was making consumers more cautious about spending.

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