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Miserable year for retailers


The Thai Retailers Association estimates the retail index in the first quarter of 2021 will contract by 7-8 per cent, while it could contract by 4-10 per cent or more for the whole year.

“The projected contraction could be worse if there are no factors that stimulate economic recovery later this year, such as the ready availability of a vaccine, the government’s tax-break measures and soft loans to SMEs,” association chairman Yol Phokasub warned.

Earlier this week the association reported the 2020 retail index plunged from 2.8 per cent growth in 2019 to a deficit of 12 per cent – its first ever two-digit contraction.

“The Covid-19 crisis has heavily affected the retail industry,” Yol pointed out. “It is estimated that the industry has lost around Bt500 billion of its total value of Bt4 trillion because of the pandemic,” he said.

“The association has estimated that we have already passed the lowest point in the third quarter of last year, when the durable goods sector [electrical appliances, construction material, telecom products], recorded 15 per cent contraction due to lockdown measures at department stores, while semi-durable goods [clothes, leather products, cosmetics] suffered up to 40 per cent contraction,” Yol said.

“In the fourth quarter, the situation started to improve following the government’s ‘Shop Dee Mee Kuen’ [Shop and Payback] scheme that has driven the growth of semi-durable goods to an 18 per cent contraction.”

Yol said that besides tax breaks and soft loans, the government needs to expand sales channels for modern trade retailers to improve the retail index.

“For example, modern trade retailers should be allowed to participate in the state welfare card scheme, which should also help distribute revenues to farmers, SMEs and local communities,” he added.

Related Story: Thai retailers plead for hourly staff rate, protections after 12% contraction

Published : January 21, 2021

By : THE NATION