While it is not surprising consumer confidence in Thailand is low, what with the number of vaccines against Covid-19 falling short of what is needed, Covid-19 cases and deaths increasing daily, and foreign tourism all but non-existent, it may be surprising to some that consumer confidence is as poor as it is.
According to a poll by the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, the Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) in Thailand for May, 2021 was at its lowest in 22 years and 8 months — when consumer confidence in the late 1990s had then plummeted due to the Asian financial crisis. A crisis that began in Thailand in July, 1997 due to the collapse of the Thai baht.
Fast forward 22 years and 8 months and, according to the university, Thais are feeling as anxious about the economy as they did back then.
Mr. Thanawat Pholyichai, rector of the university, and chairman of its economic and business forecasting center explained the plummeting consumer confidence in May was due to increasing Covid-19 cases and the political instability that has plagued Thailand for much of the last year.
His assessment comes after a poll carried out by the center asked 2,243 consumers about their confidence in the Thai economy.
The poll showed consumer confidence in Thailand to have fallen from 46.0 in April to 44.7 in May. This was across all indices, including confidence in the overall economy, confidence in job opportunities and future revenue.
Mr. Thanawat did point out, however, that a low consumer confidence in Thailand is to be expected at the moment, as increasing Covid-19 rates earlier in the year and a failing tourism industry have caused consumers to feel anxious.
He does expect the CCI to improve in June as more people are vaccinated against Covid, although it is likely to be many months before it improves drastically.
However, with the government placing emphasis on a resurrected tourism industry helping the Thai economy to recover, but with their hopes not likely to materialize, at least in the near future, CCI recovery may still be longer than Mr. Thanawat expects.
Meanwhile, the United States’ consumer confidence index is now at 82.9, as the U.S. economy recovers from the last year’s uncertainty and Covid-19 cases around the country continue to fall.