Re­tail gougers warned

Govern­ment to step in if prices in­crease

Bangkok Post - - BUSINESS - PHUSADEE ARUNMAS PITSINEE JITPLEECHEEP

The govern­ment has threat­ened to take le­gal ac­tion against re­tail shops and de­part­ment stores who raised their prod­ucts’ price ahead of the shop­ping tax break pe­riod.

Deputy Com­merce Min­is­ter Son­ti­rat Son­ti­ji­ra­wong said the min­istry had as­signed the In­ter­nal Trade De­part­ment’s au­thor­i­ties to in­ves­ti­gate im­me­di­ately af­ter com­plaints that at least one de­part­ment store was found to take ad­van­tage of con­sumers by rais­ing prices prior to the yearend shop­ping tax breaks.

Last week the cab­i­net ap­proved the shop­ping tax break to spur year-end con­sump­tion dur­ing the fes­tive sea­son. The in­cen­tive will let in­di­vid­ual tax­pay­ers deduct up to 15,000 baht of tax­able in­come from the value of goods and ser­vices bought be­tween Nov 11 and Dec 3.

This is the third straight year for a year-end tax in­cen­tive. Last year a sim­i­lar in­cen­tive was of­fered dur­ing Dec 14-31, while the scheme in 2015 lasted only seven days. In the past two years only pur­chases from re­tail­ers and dis­trib­u­tors reg­is­tered un­der the value-added tax sys­tem were el­i­gi­ble for the tax de­duc­tion.

“These are con­sid­ered un­fair and dis­hon­est trad­ing prac­tices, and au­thor­i­ties stand ready to take le­gal ac­tion against such re­tail­ers,” said Mr Son­ti­rat. “Penal­ties in­clude a max­i­mum of seven years’ im­pris­on­ment and/or a fine of up to 140,000 baht, or both.”

Boon­yarit Kalayana­mit, di­rec­tor-gen­eral of the In­ter­nal Trade De­part­ment, said af­ter an in­ves­ti­ga­tion, the ac­cused de­part­ment store de­fended the price in­crease as the ex­piry of a pro­mo­tion pe­riod, which mis­led cus­tomers.

How­ever, Mr Boon­yarit said the de­part­ment pledged to in­ves­ti­gate more on this is­sue and will cir­cu­late let­ters to all

de­part­ment stores to warn them against any un­rea­son­able price changes.

In a re­lated de­vel­op­ment, re­tail­ers are spend­ing heav­ily on their sales cam­paigns to boost year-end fig­ures dur­ing the shop­ping tax in­cen­tive.

Re­tail op­er­a­tors have started to dec­o­rate their stores to make them more colour­ful, al­lo­cat­ing a com­bined bud­get in ex­cess of 1 bil­lion baht from The Mall Group, Cen­tral Pat­tana, Robin­son and Cen­tral De­part­ment Stores, Tesco Lo­tus, Big C, and Fash­ion Is­land com­plex for their cam­paigns from now un­til Jan­uary.

Pro­mo­tions in­clude cash coupons, spe­cial dis­counts, gold neck­laces, mini-con­certs, in­cen­tive tours and a Black Fri­day event, the pop­u­lar US sales day af­ter Thanks­giv­ing.

Cham­narn May­taprechakul, ex­ec­u­tive vice-pres­i­dent of The Mall Group, said he be­lieves con­sumer spend­ing power and a cel­e­bra­tory mood may grad­u­ally re­turn pur­chases to 2015 lev­els.

“We’ve seen clear signs of pos­i­tive shop­ping sen­ti­ment at many of our busi­ness units. The tax break has been vi­tal in stim­u­lat­ing shop­ping the first two days of the cam­paign, with 43,200 tax in­voices is­sued,” Mr Cham­narn said.

The com­pany is al­lo­cat­ing 400 mil­lion baht for its “Gift of Life 2018” cam­paign at The Mall De­part­ment Store, The Em­po­rium and Paragon De­part­ment Store from now to Jan 9, 2018, also avail­able on its dig­i­tal plat­form.

Piyawan Lee­la­som­pop, ex­ec­u­tive vi­cepres­i­dent for mar­ket­ing at Cen­tral De­part­ment Store, said the com­pany is spend­ing 100 mil­lion baht to launch its flower and mar­ket­ing event on Nov 16-20 at its Chid­lom branch and Nov 16-26 at Em­bassy. Cen­tral ex­pects to draw 150,000 vis­i­tors to its event.

The com­pany is of­fer­ing a 30% dis­count at all de­part­ment store branches along with its “700 to Die For” cam­paign, of­fer­ing 700 prod­ucts dis­counted up to 90% dur­ing Nov 24-26 at Chid­lom.

Siam Re­tail De­vel­op­ment Co, the op­er­a­tor of Fash­ion Is­land, Prom­e­nade and Ter­mi­nal 21, plans to spend 30 mil­lion baht on mar­ket­ing for the pe­riod.

APICHART JINAKUL

A mall sale sign is dis­played ahead of the govern­ment’s tax break.

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