Thai consumer mood at 6-month low on Covid-19 outbreak and cost of living

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BANGKOK, April 10 (Reuters): Thai consumer confidence fell for a third consecutive month in March, hitting a six-month low, on concerns over a coronavirus outbreak, rising costs of living and the impact of the Russian-Ukrainian war, according to a survey and data showed.

The University of Thailand Chamber of Commerce consumer index fell to 42.0 in March from 43.3 the previous month.

However, Thai industries sentiment in March hit a 25-month high, supported by a pickup in economic activity as COVID-19 restrictions eased, an industry group said last week.

The Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) said its Industrial Confidence Index rose to 89.2 in March, from a drop to 86.7 the previous month.

“The overall situation is almost normal. People are going back to work and spending more money,” FTI chairman Supant Mongkolsuthree told a news conference.

However, industries are still concerned about the Russian-Ukrainian war, which has driven up the price of energy and materials, he said.

The group is urging the government to further ease travel restrictions to boost the vital tourism sector, which was a key growth engine before the pandemic.

In a separate briefing, the University of Thailand Chamber of Commerce said consumer spending over the upcoming Thai New Year is expected to fall 5% to around 107 billion baht ($3.2 billion), mostly due to the high cost of living.

Out of 2020, when Thailand imposed strict Covid-19 restrictions during the Songkran holiday, spending will be the lowest in 10 years, said university president Thanavath Phonvichai, referring to the festival which runs from April 13 to 15.

While Thailand will allow some Songkran celebrations this year, it has banned the infamous street water fights which, in a normal year, draw thousands onto the streets, spraying water guns and throwing themselves water balloons. -Reuter

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