Thai May consumer confidence hits record low on virus outbreak

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Thai consumer confidence hit a record low in May, hurt by the country's latest and biggest coronavirus outbreak so far, which could cost the economy as much as 800 billion baht (US$25.7 billion), the commerce ministry said on Thursday.

 Outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Bangkok FILE PHOTO: People visit shopping center to celebrate New Year Eve during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Bangkok, Thailand December 31, 2020. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun/File Photo

BANGKOK: Thai consumer confidence hit a record low in May, hurt by the country's latest and biggest coronavirus outbreak so far, which could cost the economy as much as 800 billion baht (US$25.7 billion), the commerce ministry said on Thursday.

The consumer index of the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce fell to 44.7 in May from 46.0 in April, when an outbreak emerged that has accounted for most of Thailand's overall COVID-19 infections and deaths.

A sluggish rollout of vaccines and political uncertainty had also undermined consumer confidence in drivers for an economic recovery, university president Thanavath Phonvichai told a briefing.

If the outbreak can be controlled this month, the economic impact is estimated at 500 billion baht to 800 billion baht this year, he said, adding a commerce confidence index also hit a record low in May.

However, consumer confidence is expected to pick up over the next six months on optimism about a pickup in vaccinations and reopening to foreign visitors, Thanavath said.

Thailand started its long awaited mass vaccination drive on Monday.

(US$1 = 31.13 baht)

(Reporting by Kitiphong Thaichareon and Satawasin Staporncharnchai; Writing by Orathai Sriring; Eiting by Ed Davies)