The modern trade sentiment was far from showing any signs of recovery in the first quarter after it plunged to the lowest rate in three quarters as a result of weakened purchasing power amid the Covid-19 crisis.
Surong Bulkul, vice-chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce said the third wave of the pandemic is expected to continue dampening business sentiment in subsequent quarters.
The University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce (UTCC) yesterday reported the modern trade sentiment index stood at 46.3 points (out of 100) in the first quarter of 2021, down from 47.3 points in last year's fourth quarter, 47.4 points in last year's third quarter, 46.4 in last year's second quarter and 47.2 points in last year's first quarter. This is the lowest level that has been recorded ever since the index began in the third quarter of 2018.
Modern trade represents about 60% of the country's wholesale and retail market.
Thanavath Phonvichai, president of the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce (UTCC), said that amid a pandemic, modern trade operators have tried to shore up operations by tapping into online channels and adjusting their services to deliveries or takeaway rather than in-person dining.
According to Mr Thanavath, despite the difficulties, the modern trade sector is still managing to go on with their business and is yet to see any interruption or mass layoffs.
He said business would likely surge again if the government introduced fresh measures to stimulate domestic spending.