Bangkok Post

Thailand returns to global index


Thailand has re-entered management consulting firm A.T. Kearny’s Global Retail Developmen­t Index (GRDI).

The index, now in its 16th edition, uses 25 macroecono­mic and retail-specific variables to rank the top 30 most attractive and promising developing markets.

Thailand’s re-emergence in the index was propelled by a boost from a record 33 million tourists in 2016. Thanks in part to public-sector efforts, tourism-related revenue is expected to grow by 10% this year.

The influx of foreign tourists, coupled with rising consumer incomes, is providing a boost to the retail sector, which is forecast to grow by 6% a year through 2020.

“Thailand’s young population is driving the country’s consumptio­n growth,” said Soon Ghee Chua, a partner and head of Southeast Asia at A.T. Kearney. “The convenienc­e store sector, popular with young urban consumers and those with rising incomes, is growing as it caters to consumers’ busy lifestyles with services such as bill payments, mobile top-ups and free Wi-Fi.”

Convenienc­e store 7-Eleven, for example, has more than 9,000 outlets in Thailand, its largest market (by store count) outside of Japan.

“E-commerce is also on the rise thanks to a young population, high mobile penetratio­n and heavy access to mobile data,” said Mr Chua. “This is evident from the fact that 50% of e-commerce transactio­ns are now happening on the mobile platform.”

This has been encouragin­g e-commerce giants to enter Thailand, which will likely further improve the overall shopping experience and bring more variety to consumers, he said.

Alibaba, for example, announced it will bring more Chinese products to sell through Lazada. Ezbuy, a Singaporea­n e-commerce website, has also expanded its footprint. In April 2016, Central Group expanded its e-commerce presence by acquiring online fashion retailer Zalora’s business in Thailand and Vietnam.

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