Get ready for a really large sale

Fourteen retailers have agreed to reduce the prices of more than 10,000 products by 20-70% from Aug 19-24 to mark Commerce Day and comply with the junta's policy of trying harder to decrease people's cost of living.

Santichai Santawanpas, deputy director–general of the Internal Trade Department, yesterday said the price cuts by retailers and modern trade operators including Tesco Lotus, Big C, Makro, Tops Supermarket, Central, The Mall and Robinson would help to reduce the cost of living for consumers by more than 1 billion baht.

Products that will be reduced during the designated period include consumer products, apparel, electrical appliances and One Tambon One Product goods.

The Commerce Ministry was tasked by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) with tackling cost of living adjustments more quickly and beefing up transparency shortly after the junta took control on May 22.

Last month, the manufacturers of 205 consumer products agreed to freeze their retail prices over the next six months in order to help ease consumers' high cost of living.

The products that manufacturers pledged to cap included cooked food, packed rice, powdered milk and detergent.

The ministry also plans to expand the Blue Flag scheme selling low-priced foods and consumer goods to 1,430 events nationwide, up from 947 planned earlier.

The low-priced products are to be sold from mobile units utilising a budget of 201 million baht.

As part of the efforts, the ministry also came up with measures to supervise the prices of fertiliser and insecticide as well as setting reference prices for agricultural production raw materials in order to help farmers.

Authorities also pledged to monitor closely measures already agreed upon with retailers and manufacturers, while the department vowed to closely inspect and observe the prices of products at the marketplace.

Consumers who spot price irregularities are urged to call the 1569 hotline to reach the department's complaint centre.

Mr Santichai said the Commerce Ministry was also preparing to team up with petrol station operators to launch a campaign to ensure the oil volume purchased at petrol stations meets the prices they pay.

Last week the department met with these operators, and all of them agreed to participate in the initiative.

Despite being asked to cooperate several times and maintain or cut their product prices, retailers still claim their sales have yet to be adversely unaffected.

"We have seen a positive impact from the junta's policy of cutting people's cost of living," said Salinla Seehaphan, corporate affairs director at Tesco Lotus.

"This will help to restore consumer confidence and boost consumers' shopping mood.

"More importantly, our company has yet to suffer any adverse impact from NCPO policy."

Consumer sentiment hit a six-month high last month amid improved confidence in the country's economic and political prospects after the military took control on May 22 and promised to revitalise the fragile economy.

The University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce this month reported the country's consumer confidence index had increased for the second consecutive month in June to 75.1 points from 70.7 in May.

The May increase was the first advance in the index in 14 months.

Improving consumer confidence stems mainly from the military's intervention to end the months-long political mayhem.

Other key contributing factors include the Bank of Thailand's recent growth outlook upgrade for this year as well as raising its projection for next year's GDP growth to 5.5% from 4.8%.

The junta's quick payment of 92 billion baht owed to rice farmers under the rice pledging scheme and policies concerning energy and consumer product prices have also improved consumer sentiment.

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