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Demand Rises as Thai Shoppers Return

Adeline Ee, CNBC Asia Pacific
Tuesday, 21 Sep 2010 | 1:55 AM ET

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

Luxury Bounces Back in Thailand
Demand for luxury goods has bounced back very quickly since the May protests, says Charn Srivikorn, chairman of Gaysorn Shopping Centre. He sheds light on Thailand's luxury retail sector, with CNBC's Martin Soong.

"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.

CentralWorld Set to Reopen
CentralWorld is set to reopen its doors later this month after being set ablaze during the political unrest earlier this year. Kobchai Chirathivat, CEO of Central Pattana, the mall's developer, tells CNBC's Martin Soong & Karen Tso why he remains upbeat about the Thai mall's prospects.

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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