Consumer confidence edges up as govt stimulus fuels fragile recovery
The consumer confidence index rose only slightly in October to 50.9, from 50.2 the month before, the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce (UTCC) reported on Thursday.
Meanwhile confidence in the economy increased from 42.9 43.9, with public sentiment on jobs rising from 48.2 to 49 and on future income from 59.4 to 59.9.
The economic indicators underlined the fragile nature of Thailand’s recovery from the Covid-19 crisis, said Thanawat Polvichai, chief adviser to the UTCC’s Centre for Economic and Business Forecasting.
He credited government financial aid plus new stimulus packages for contributing to the rise in confidence.
The rising price of farm products – namely rice, rubber, and palm oil – had also boosted consumer spending, despite concerns over political unrest, he said.
However, the centre predicted that most consumers would delay their spending until the fourth quarter this year as they wait to see the Covid-19 infection rate and how government stimulus will boost the economy.
Thanawat expects government measures to stimulate consumption and domestic travel will inject about Bt100 billion into the economy for the rest of this year.
On external factors, he said Joe Biden winning the US presidential election would boost Thai exports as well as oil prices.
The centre forecast that the Thai economy will contract 7 to 7.5 per cent this year, better than its previous projection of a 7.8 per cent contraction. It expects to see the economy begin growing again by the second quarter of next year, or the first quarter if the government launches more stimulus packages.
The recovery remains fragile, with the absence of foreign tourists sapping about Bt600 billion per month from the economy while government stimulus injects only between Bt150 billion and Bt200 billion.
Risk factors being closely monitored by consumers include political unrest, Covid-19, the strengthening baht, rising cost of living, and the US decision to cut trade privileges under the Generalised System of Preferences, Thanawat added.