Deputy abbot Mahapromphong (L) from Wat Suthi Wararam Buddhist temple watches as elderly Covid-19 Coronavirus patient Worapoj Salee receives oxygen from medics in the Charoen Krung neighbourhood in Bangkok on July 30, 2021. (Photo by Lillian SUWANRUMPHA / AFP)
A vast majority of Thai people still have serious concerns about the worsening COVID-19 pandemic. The level of happiness, among people in Bangkok and the newly designated ‘dark red’ provinces, has decreased by 2% from June, according to a survey conducted by the Hakuhodo Institute of Life and Living ASEAN (Thailand) in collaboration with Socius.
The latest study, conducted online between 17th and 26th June with 1,200 respondents aged 20 to 59 across Thailand, indicates that Thai people have become less happy as a result of the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Many Thai consumers are, however, spending more, despite the difficult economic conditions. Most consumers accept the need for spending on essential goods, particularly food and other necessities, for themselves and their families.
Some have set aside money to be spent on Thailand’s upcoming Mother’s Day on August 12th, believing it will foster a little happiness and help reduce stress and anxiety, caused by increasing COVID-19 cases, uncertain vaccine delivery schedules, current political turbulence, and everyday social situations.
Thailand may see over 40,000 new COVID-19 infections and 500 deaths per day, peaking mid-September, if the current lockdown restrictions are not rigorously followed and enforced and without full cooperation from everyone, according to a projection by the Ministry of Public Health, based on a Susceptible Exposed Infected Recovery (SEIR) compartmental mathematical model.
The Business Director of the Hakuhodo Institute, Chutima Wiriyamahakul, said it is undeniable that the continued increase in COVID-19 cases has negatively affected most Thai people, particularly those living in the maximum and strictly controlled areas. They are forced to stay at home, but many have managed to learn new skills to make money online.
The Strategic Planning Director of Socius, Anunpapa Siriwan, said the survey reflects Thai people’s problems in making a living. As things change, people have to adapt to survive.
Anunpapa said, regarding changes in consumer behavior, people domiciled in the northeastern region of the country have decided to return to their home provinces, following the government’s enforcement of enhanced lockdown measures. They also plan to remain there for some time and that seems to have triggered an increase in spending, adding that people are also tending to spend more on fuel and transport in their daily routines, while probably setting aside some money for home renovation or decoration, Anunpapa added.
The survey also shows that people aged 20 to 39 prefer to buy affordable products, such as home furniture and decorations, to help facilitate their work-from-home routines. While adults aged 50 to 59 are in need of basic necessities, to make their daily lives more comfortable. These people are also willing to spend more on health and beauty products.
Thai consumers are spending their money on five major product groups during the lockdown. 25% goes on food, 17% on daily consumables, 11% on mobile phones, 6% on computer and tablet accessories, and 5% on clothing and accessories.
The survey also revealed the issues on which Thai’s are focusing most attention. They include the overall COVID-19 situation in Thailand (40%), the government’s delayed distribution of COVID-19 vaccines and the associated public frustration and lack of confidence (24%), and political issues including parliamentary dissolution and constitutional amendments (8%).