Thailand: Covid hits New Year gift buying

The Covid-19 situation has been a significant influence on New Year shopping with more than three in four Thais (77%) saying it has affected their intention to buy holiday season gifts, according to Marketbuzzz, a local mobile marketing and market research specialist.

Nevertheless, retailers can still expect a busy time with Thai consumers still out buying gifts for their family and friends and even treating themselves.

The Marketbuzzz survey, conducted among 500 Thai consumers nationwide in November, shows an almost even split between people planning to buy gifts in stores at 53%, and buying online at 47%.

Those doing their shopping at stores are more likely to spend more on gifts — just over 2,000 baht on average — compared to what they will be spending online, at just under 1,600 baht. Total average spending ranges from 900 baht for low-income households to 2,500 baht for high-income consumers.

Some 45% of respondents say they plan to spend less than they did during the holiday season last year, while just 12% say they will spend more and 43% will spend about the same.

A total of 58% say they’ll be buying gifts for their family, 24% will buy for friends and 23% plan to buy something for themselves.

The top five gift categories this year are food and drinks, health products and supplements, hampers, jewellery and electronics.

“Every year retailers plan their seasonal inventory and product promotions well in advance for this busy holiday season and the retail industry will be hoping for a busy time over this period as Thais are still eager to celebrate, and gift-giving is high on the list,” said Grant Bertoli, chief executive of Marketbuzzz.

“The retail industry has faced many challenges with the Covid-19 situation, and while spending will be less it’s a positive sign for the industry and a period that retailers rely heavily on to boost their sales.

“The counter to this is that Thais have less money so they will no doubt be looking for a bargain, so promotions are going to play a key role.”

The good news, he said, is that many Thais got a head start on their New Year gift shopping, with over half saying that they had already started in November. “Hopefully, that’s a good sign for the rest of the year.”