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Shutdown a boon for food and drink vendors

IN THE Bangkok Shutdown protest areas, sales of food and drinks have doubled, Somchai Pornrattanacharoen, president of the Thai Wholesaling and Retailing Association, said yesterday.

For grocery stores, this is a "golden opportunity" to increase their profits by adapting to the needs of protesters in these areas, Somchai told the Business Talk programme of Krungthep Turakij TV.

Business in protest accessories, like whistles, T-shirts and flags, has also been brisk, and prices have plummeted since the first demonstrations. For example, whistles, which were going for Bt20 at the beginning, were now being pitched at Bt20 for three. The price have been driven down by competition, as traditional stores try to boost their own sales.

Many vendors are now trying to differentiate their wares through unique and fashionable designs for their whistles, in order to avoid vying solely on price.

Sales of food and drinks at convenience stores at the protest sites have also doubled, said Suwit Kingkaew, senior vice president of CP All, operator of the 7-Eleven chain. The stores are sold out by mid-afternoon and can't restock until after midnight, when deliveries are usually made.

While convenience stores located around the protest stages are doing well, those close to schools are not.

Schools are all temporarily closed, and the large proportion of customers for these stores has disappeared. Although the stores are suffering from dwindling demand, they are not in a bad enough shape to close down just yet.

While the sales of daily necessities are buoyant, luxury goods are sluggish. Luxury goods purveyors will suffer from reduced demand for the first half of this year and will have to make up for the lost business through additional promotions and advertising.

For both traditional retail stores and modern trade convenience stores, there are no problems in restocking their shelves, as they are transported late at night. Restaurants and shopping malls at protest sites in key shopping areas are preparing to boost inventories to serve the surge in customers, most of whom appear to be demonstrators, after witnessing sales growth on Monday, the first day of the Bangkok Shutdown, he added.

On Monday, Sakchai Kengkijkosol, managing director for retail business at MBK Plc, operator of the MBK Shopping Centre, said many tenants specialising in products aimed at Thais, such as food and beverages, snacks, mobile telephones, and cameras and accessories, claimed to have seen a 2.5-fold jump in sales on Monday.

Some stores ran out of merchandise. However, some stores targeting foreigners, such as sellers of souvenirs, fashion products, apparel, and bags and leather goods, saw sales decline on that day.


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