BANGKOK: Thailand’s finance ministry has edged up its economic growth forecast and businesses are hoping for more positive consumer sentiment following the end of a year-long mourning period for the late King Bhumibol.

The ministry now anticipates growth of 3.8% this year, rather than the previous figure of 3.6%, driven by exports and tourism.

The revision comes as a five-day cremation ceremony for King Bhumibol, who died last October, ended on Sunday.

Consumer spending has been muted for the past year, the Bangkok Post noted, but it is expected to pick up over the coming holiday season, as retailers invest in promotions and marketing events.

“The shopping atmosphere in the upcoming festive season will be better but the competition will be more intense than ever because almost all retailers will jump on the promotional bandwagon,”' said Anawat Sangkasap, SVP/customer strategy at department store operator Robinson.

Robinson itself intends to spend 100 million baht on its promotions and other activities during the last two months of the year.

One particular category that is expected to benefit is apparel, where people had preferred monochrome options during the mourning period.

“It’s been a gloomy environment for the retail sector, especially clothing,” observed Papitch Wongpaitoonpiya, CEO of Rich Sport. “It’s been very hard to sell products in colors other than black and white. That’s understandable, as the whole country has been in grief.”

Alongside the fashion market, tourism is gearing up for a resurgence in the post-cremation period which co-incides with the peak tourism season.

“With everything getting better, I expect a rising employment rate and more confidence among investors, leading to new spending next year,” said Kalin Sarasin, chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce.

The Thailand Board of Investment has also outlined how the country is preparing to make the leap to become a digital-first economy.

Sourced from Bangkok Post, Business Times, The Star, Thailand Board of Investment; additional content by WARC staff