BANGKOK - Thai consumer confidence dropped to a record low in July, dented by the country's biggest COVID-19 outbreak to date, a sluggish vaccine rollout and a slowing economic recovery, a survey showed on Thursday.
The Southeast Asian country has struggled with a surge in infections fuelled by the Delta variant of the virus and this week extended stricter containment measures for a month, with lockdown areas expanded.
The restrictions are expected to reduce gross domestic product (GDP) by 2-3%, or 500 billion baht ($15 billion), university president Thanavath Phonvichai told a briefing.
The University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce's consumer index fell to 40.9 in July from 43.1 in June amid concerns over the COVID-19 outbreak and political uncertainty, the university said.
"Consumers felt the economy was still bad," Thanavath said. "Confidence in August is expected to drop further, signalling a slow economy with no signs of recovery," he added.
The economy is now expected to shrink as much as 2% this year, rather than meet earlier predictions of 0% to 1% growth, Thanavath said, adding a deeper fall was expected if the outbreak dragged on.
Southeast Asia's second-largest economy shrank 6.1% last year, its deepest slump in over two decades, with tourism devastated by the pandemic.
So far, only 6.3% of Thailand's more than 66 million people have been fully vaccinated. ($1 = 33.18 baht)
(Reporting by Orathai Sriring, Satawasin Staporncharnchai and Kitiphong Thaichareon; Editing by James Pearson and Ed Davies) ((firstname.lastname@example.org;))