By Kwanchai Rungfapaisarn,
Major retailers have launched proactive marketing activities, especially price campaigns, to boost sales in the final quarter of the year and cash in on the hoped-for recovery of people’s spending.
Boonsithi Chokwatana, Saha Group chairman, said the government’s recent economic stimulus packages, particularly the measures to stimulate the property sector, would begin to have an effect on the economy this quarter but would have more of an impact next year.
"The economy and consumers’ spending power have bottomed out. The government’s measures should help increase incomes for low- and medium-income people and promote stronger economic growth next year," he said.
He insisted that the property-sector stimulus was unlike the previous elected government’s first-car tax-incentive scheme. The current military-led regime has proceeded in the right direction, as this measure should promote stronger economic growth without affecting government revenue.
Boonsithi said gross domestic product was anticipated to increase by more than 2 per cent this quarter, possibly as much as 3 per cent, depending on the input from the government sector.
"In my point of view, the overall economy is on the right track. The baht has now depreciated. The government’s economic team is also focusing on assistance to small and medium-sized enterprises, one of the key factors to move the country’s economy forward," he said.
Boonsithi said Saha Group anticipated its total sales revenue to be flat this year at about Bt260 billion, contributed by more than 1,000 fashion brands. This is in line with the overall market for consumer goods, which also shows no sign of growth for this year.
Boonkiet Chokwatana, executive chairman of ICC International, manufacturer and distributor of fashion-brand products, said the company posted total sales of about Bt13 billion last year, about the same as in 2013.
"The economic and political difficulties in Thailand affected the company’s fashion-product business, which will see growth no higher than 5 per cent this year. However, it will be better than last year, when the company posted flat sales-revenue growth," he said.
Meanwhile, Big C Supercenter yesterday launched its biggest-ever price campaign, titled "Cheaper than Last Year", in which more than 5,000 items of products, both with normal and promotional prices, will be priced almost 20 per cent lower than last year.
"We want to take a role as price leader in the marketplace. We are listening to individual customers and making sure that our campaigns meet their needs," said Robert Godwin, vice president for marketing and communications at Big C Supercenter.
He said Big C had invested Bt9 billion in its price-cutting campaigns throughout this year, claiming that these allowed the average cost per basket to be 5 per cent lower.
"The economy is tough this year with no sign of recovery. Price will be the most important thing. Customers want to have good prices when buying things at this time of economic difficulty," Godwin said.
He said people had adjusted their shopping behaviour by paying attention to how much it costs them to get access to the stores. They are also quite worried that they might buy more things than expected when shopping at big stores. As a result, if they only need a few items, consumers prefer to buy from smaller stores near their homes.
Salinla Seehaphan, corporate affairs director of Tesco Lotus, said: "We have seen improving consumer confidence after the launch of the government’s economic stimulus and hope customers will spend more in the fourth quarter and during the festive season."
She said that this year, Tesco Lotus had invested around Bt3 billion to bring down the prices of more than 5,000 items that are essential for everyday living, with particular focus on fresh food and mother and baby products to help its customers cope during a challenging period.
"Our investments are [meant] to bring down the prices of goods permanently, as well as weekly and special promotions throughout the year. To date, we have lowered the prices of more than 850 fresh-food items including fresh meat, vegetables and fruits, as well as around 300 mother and baby products including baby formula, diapers and UHT milk.
"In addition to this, our Clubcard loyalty programme has invested a further Bt1 billion in cash coupons and discount vouchers to help more than 11 million members save when they shop at Tesco Lotus," she said.