Bangkok blast left pall over shrine's business neighbours

PHOTO: The Nation/ANN

In the wake of the deadly Erawan Shrine bombing on August 17, businesses in the nearby shopping zone have plunged into stagnant trading.

No more busy days. The area is quiet. If things go on like this throughout the next three months, I'll be broke," Naiyana Temporn said at her hat shop inside the Watergate Pavilion shopping mall.

The shop is located about 700 metres from the Erawan Shrine where the bomb exploded, killing 20 people and injuring more than 100 others.

While the authorities were still unable to nail down the culprits, Naiyana said she remained insecure. "I don't even want to come here myself", said Naiyana, "I know it's hard to ensure full safety in areas like this".

This hat-shop owner said her daily sales had plunged from Bt30,000 (S$1,200) a day to just Bt10,000 a day.

The adverse effects are felt not just inside the air-conditioned Watergate Pavilion but also among shops across the street.

"Sales have plunged by more than 90 per cent," said Naiyana Whangraiklang, owner of a clothing store. Foreigners usually account for half her sales. Given that many tourists were among the victims at the Erawan Shrine last week, it was clear that fewer foreigners were showing up around her shop.

After operating her business here for seven years, Naiyana said the hardest time must have finally arrived because of the bomb blast.

"It's very quiet here on the street. Probably, I had better look for something else to do," she said.

In recent months, the global economic woes have already hit Thailand hard. Many Thai entrepreneurs report falling exports. Purchase orders have also eased naturally during the rainy season. "I've been using my savings to cover the operating costs," Naiyana the hat owner said.