Thai retailers happy with junta's performance

Thai retailers happy with junta's performance

Major retailers and shopping-mall operators are impressed with the junta's performance in the month since it seized power on May 22, thanks to its efforts to return happiness to the people and boost the economy.

Chatrchai Tuongratanaphan, executive director of the Thai Retailers Association, said the positive impact had not however yet fully reached the retail sector.

"The retail industry is a downstream business and it could take another three to four months to feel the benefit. What I can say at the moment is that the shopping mood of people has already returned to the normal level. It is definitely a good sign," he said.

While the junta recently accelerated long-overdue payments to farmers for the rice they had pledged to the former government, those rice growers would spend the money on priorities such as repaying debt and buying agricultural inputs, he said.

"We anticipate the overall retail market will increase by between 6 per cent and 8 per cent this year, up from about 6.3-per-cent growth posted last year," said Chatrchai.

The situation was already better in May and June compared to the first quarter, when the retail market slowed to growth of just 3-5 per cent, he added.

Chai Srivikorn, president of the Ratchaprasong Square Trade Association (RSTA), said the most important thing the junta had achieved to date was to bring peace back to the country, with law and social order starting to be strictly enforced again.

Since taking power, many economy-stimulus measures have been launched by the junta, including the release of the annual public budget and the drawing up of an economic road map, he said, adding that |this had encouraged the injection |of money into the system, causing the economy to start to turn |around.

"What we have seen over the past month is that the number of foreign tourists has started to pick up significantly," said Chai.

The number of foreign visitors to the Ratchaprasong district has dropped by between 20 per cent and 30 per cent this year, while the occupancy rate at major hotels in the district slumped from 70 per cent to just 30 per cent during the political unrest.

However, occupancy has already rebounded to 40 per cent, while a full recovery of foreign tourists in the area, especially from China, Russia and the Middle East, should be seen in the third or fourth quarters, he forecast.

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