MULTIPLE CLOSURES FORECAST WITH RETAIL BUSINESS CRISIS

The Thai Retailers Association (TRA) says some 100,000 stores could close down due to the lockdown measure in Thailand, which would lead to loss of jobs for staff.

The vice-president of TRA, Chatrchai Toungratanaphan, said that the July retail sentiment Index (RSI) survey showed that the retail business was facing a crisis, as the RSI was at 16.4 points, the lowest in 16 months.

Retail sector revenue could contract by THB270 billion and some 100,000 stores are likely to cease operations, he added.

The RSI in the next three months is estimated to be at around 27.6 points due to delay in vaccination and a lack of relief measures. This estimate is lower than the 32.1 points in April 2020.

The RSI has drastically decreased in all retail categories of service, especially malls and restaurants. Their sales were directly affected by the lockdown measure, and were down 80 to 90 per cent from June.

According to entrepreneurs, 90 per cent of them expected the economy to return to normal only in mid-2023 or later.

Convenience stores were affected by the 9pm to 4am curfew. Their sales had fallen by 20 to 25 per cent as they could not sell in the late-night hours, which was one of their peak business hours. Also, 40 per cent of convenience stores were located in the “dark-red” zone, he added.

MULTIPLE CLOSURES FORECAST WITH RETAIL BUSINESS CRISIS
Bluport Resort Mall Hua Hin on a Friday afternoon after Dark Red zoning was applied to Prachuap Khiri Khan Province

It may be noted that these reports preceded the designation of many more provinces as ‘Dark Red’ zones, including Prachuap Khiri Khan and Phetchaburi, with accompanying more extensive restrictions now in place.

The association has requested four measures to the government to help the business sector prevent loss and closure:

▪️The government must come up with compensation measures for employers to help pay rent and 50 per cent of employees’ wages for at least six months.

▪️The government must reduce utility bills by 50 per cent for six months.

▪️Financial institutions should approve soft loans for entrepreneurs to get funds quickly in 30 days. Currently, only 10 per cent of 30,000 applicants receive approval. If the approval remains slow, around 100,000 entrepreneurs will have to cease operations.

▪️Suspend repayment and freeze interest on debt for at least six months for entrepreneurs who were debtors of financial institutions.