Consumer confidence continues nosedive

Consumer confidence continues nosedive

Consumer confidence continued to plummet in August, sinking for an eighth straight month and hitting a 15-month low.

The Aug 17 Erawan Shrine bombing, the weak economy and high household debt aggravated consumer sentiment.

A survey by the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce (UTCC) released yesterday showed the consumer confidence index fell to 72.3 points last month from 73.4 in July. Last month's reading was the lowest since May 2014, when confidence began rising on hopes of an economic rebound after the military coup ended months of unrest.

"Consumer confidence remains battered, as people are concerned about the recovery prospects of the global economy, shrinking exports, low farm product prices, the weak baht and particularly the deadly bombings at Erawan Shrine, which will deliver a psychological blow to the tourism sector," said Thanavath Phonvichai, the UTCC's vice-president for research.

"They are also still worried about the high cost of living and product prices."

However, he said a positive from the recent cabinet shake-up was the 136-billion-baht economic stimulus package to help low-income earners.

The cabinet on Tuesday approved three measures in a package the Finance Ministry expects to add 0.4 percentage points to the country's economic growth this year. They include 60 billion baht in interest-free loans to low-income earners through 59,000 Village Funds ranked grade A and B, a 36.3-billion-baht budget for 7,255 tambons nationwide to use for construction and repair work and an accelerated 40 billion baht in budget disbursements for small projects costing less than 1 million baht.

"In the fourth quarter, it is hoped the Thai economy will recover, with active spending and consumer confidence," Mr Thanavath said. "But we don't expect much, as the economy is still haunted by a spate of negative factors."

Last Thursday the Commerce Ministry said July exports fell by 3.56% year-on-year to US$18.2 billion, an improvement from June's 7.87% dip, the biggest since December 2011.

Agricultural and agribusiness exports fell by 5.1% year-on-year to $2.88 billion in July, while industrial goods shipments fell by 2.6% to $14.2 billion.

In the first seven months, exports totalled $125 billion, down 4.66% year-on-year.

Kingkorn Prasertthum, 47, a corporate driver, plans to continue spending cautiously, as he is not confident about an economic recovery.

"We may wait until later this year to see how much the government's measures work," he said. "But now nothing is certain."

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