Political conflict pressing retail sales growth at 6-7% this year

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BANGKOK, Mar 3 – The Thai Retailers Association (TRA) today predicted a 6-7 per cent growth for this year’s retail sales with retailers planning to open over 2,000 new outlets nationwide.

TRA president Busaba Chirathivat said the relocation of anti-government rally sites from the heart of Bangkok to a single venue at Lumpini Park, starting yesterday, could stimulate shopping among Thai people and tourists.

If the state of emergency is revoked, more foreign tourists will return to Thailand, positively contributing to the economy, she said, adding that the private sector forecast 26 million foreign tourist arrivals this year.

“We hope the new government will retain the 7 per cent value added tax and reduce taxes for imported brand-name products to attract foreign shoppers,” she said.

She said the forecast 6-7 per cent growth of retail sales was in accord with this year’s expansion of gross domestic product (GDP) as projected by the National Economic and Social Development Board.

Retail sales will possibly increase by 2-3 per cent in Q1, said Ms Busaba.

She said retailers would continue expanding their businesses includingconvenience stores, supermarkets, supercentres, department stores and segmented stores.

Declining exports and lower prices for agricultural produce, impacted by the political dispute, have resulted in sales volume growth at only 6.3 per cent, or a total value of Bt2.3 trillion last year – a sharp decline compared to 2012 which recorded a 12 per cent growth.

Durable goods such as construction materials grew 8.5 per cent while semi-durable goods such as clothing expanded 5.5 per cent and non-durable goods such as food increased by only 4.5 per cent.

Non-durable goods represented 60 per cent of total sales.

The TRA president predicted a rapid growth of online sales which expanded over 20 per cent, or at a total value of Bt90 billion, last year.

Major trading firms penetrating into the rural market projected an increase in the numbers of provincial stores to 72 per cent of total operations in 2017. The present proportion of modern trade outlets is 58 per cent in the provinces.

Convenience stores will be the key driving factor for expansion thanks to urbanisation, she said.

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