Consumer confidence at 12-year low

The Thai consumer confidence index (CCI) in March continued to drop and has now reached the lowest level in 149 months, the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce (UTCC) reported on Thursday.

Vachira Kunthawethep, a UTCC economist, said the CCI dropped to 68.8 points in March, down from 69.9 in February. The March index was at the lowest level since November 2001. A score of 100 is seen as normal. It has fallen steadily over the last 12 months.

The university surveyed the opinions of 2,256 people nationwide. The result showed that confidence had dropped in all areas. Confidence in the overall economy dropped to 58.7 points in March from 59.7 in February, employment opportunities dropped to 62.9 points from 63.6 and future income was down to 84.9 points from 86.3.  

Negative factors damaging confidence included worry about a political uprising, closure of important places in Bangkok, the Constitutional Court’s ruling on the two-trillion-baht infrastructure bill, and the lowering of the economic growth forecast by the Bank of Thailand and the Fiscal Policy Office.

Consumer confidence was also down from the delay in payments to farmers under the rice pledging scheme, lower farm prices and higher living costs.

Positive factors boosting confidence were the reduction in the policy interest rate to 2.0% from 2.25%, the strengthening baht and the lifting of the state of emergency in Bangkok and nearby provinces.

UTCC vice-president for research Thanavath Phonvichai said the trend for consumer consumption would be downward until June as there was no positive factors to support the country’s economic growth.

The university’s research centre believed consumption would revive in the third quarter, on the condition that a new government was formed in the second half of the year.

He said one positive factor was the appointment of the members of the Board of Investment, which would be able to approve investment privileges, particularly those applied to foreign investors.

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