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Demand Rises as Thai Shoppers Return

Consumer demand is making a comeback in Thailand just months after the nation suffered the blows of a political upheaval.

"You can see the local demand bouncing back," said Charn Srivikorn, chairman of Gaysorn Shopping Centre, a luxury shopping mall in the heart of Bangkok.

"It's about confidence, with the local visitors," he told CNBC in an interview on Tuesday.

The popular Ratchaprasong shopping district turned into a war zone in May when the area became the target of protestors.

A Thai National Flag is seen inside the devastated red shirt camp as a fire burns at the Central World Shopping Mall.
Getty Images
A Thai National Flag is seen inside the devastated red shirt camp as a fire burns at the Central World Shopping Mall.

But consumer sentiment has rebounded just four months after the protests. Thailand’s private consumption index rose 5.1 percent in July from a year earlier, moderating from June’s higher-than-expected 8.3 percent jump, data showed.

Bangkok's largest shopping mall, CentralWorld, which is due to reopen on September 28, gives reason for a further increase.

"Thailand will witness (an) increase in private consumption," said Kobchai Chirathivat, CEO of Central Pattana, the mall's developer, estimating a near double-digit jump in consumption in early 2010 from a year earlier.

"That shows people have a lot of confidence in the economy," he told CNBC.

About $90 million has gone into rebuilding CentralWorld after protestors set the shopping mall on fire during the political crisis.

Thailand's tourism sector is also recovering and will have a major impact on the economy, Kobchai said.

Tourist arrivals rose 12.7 percent in July from a year earlier, government data showed.

However, Charn remarked that retail tourism for luxury goods still had some catching up to do.

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