Department stores adapt to the curfew as SOE continues

Department stores adapt to the curfew now in place as the State of Emergency (SOE) is likely to last throughout April.

Malls, such as Central Pattana (CPN) and Mixt Chatuchak, have postponed rent until the end of April as they cannot justify taking money when stores have been ordered to shut down until the SOE is lifted.   

Some businesses inside the department stores are still up and running as the government allows supermarkets, pharmacies, bank branches and restaurants with take away or delivery option to remain open.     

Big C Supercenter was one of the first malls to react to the newly placed curfew (22:00-04:00) by increasing its delivery fleet for the “Big C Shopping Online Express Delivery Service.” They promise to deliver groceries to your doorsteps within one hour.

The service can deliver almost everything available within their stores from ready-to-eat food, consumer products, fresh foods, appliances to imported products. The delivery is free if the order is more than 1,500 baht for groceries and more than 200 baht for food deliveries to a location that is within 5 kilometers from the selected department store. The service is now available between 10:00-20:00 to adhere to the curfew.

Customers can order through their website, mobile applications or by telephone. They have the option to either pay online or via cash on delivery. There is also a drive-thru service for people who want to pick up their own products.

“Online shopping is expanding rapidly. All retail stores have to go online now,” said Phidsanu Pongwatana, Senior Executive Vice President of Hyper & Market Operations at Big C Supercenter. 

With Big C planting its mark on deliveries, CPN has taken it a step further. On Tuesday, Central has launched its “ONE CALL x ONE CLICK” service which promises to bring products from 1,200 restaurants and stores within its malls to your home.

Customers can use their One Stop Shopping Assistant, via LINE or by telephone, to order their products. The options include delivery, drive-thru or a pick-up at a designated location.

Most products from Central Group, including Tops Supermarket, Central Food Hall, Central Department Store, Robinson Department Store, Supersports, B2S and OfficeMate, are available through this service. The call-center is open between 8:30-21:00. 

Logistics 

With demand for more delivery services, the logistics business is booming. The industry is now worth 200 billion baht with a growth rate of 15-20 per cent per year; of that, the express 1-2 days delivery service is now worth 30 billion baht.  

With SOE boosting demand, Kerry Express (Thailand) is now the clear winner as they dominate the market. The number of parcels they deliver has now doubled their previous figures before the pandemic. Kerry Express reached 2 million parcels per day in 2019.

However, the SOE comes with checkpoints and a strict curfew, which means that delivery businesses have to adapt to the new regulations. Kerry has adjusted its parcel pick-up time by one hour and they are temporarily halting delivery of parcels taller than 155 centimeters and weighing more than 20 kilograms on some routes to cope with delays.  

As more and more shops come online, the demand for delivery service will continue to increase throughout the SOE.

Swiping Casualty 

With less and less people going to malls, the amount of people swiping their credit cards has inevitable lowered. 

Thakorn Piyapan, Head of Krungsri Consumer Group, said the usage of the bank’s credit cards has decreased by 12-13 per cent in the first quarter of 2020 in comparison to the same period in 2019. The value on card-spending has declined by 30 per cent. 

However, card usage online has increased by 50 per cent year-on-year and spending on delivery services has increased by more than 1,000 per cent. Although, this does not compensate the decline of credit card spending on products inside department stores and within the tourism sector, which has led to a 30 per cent drop.       

Thakorn expects credit card spending to remain subdued in the second quarter and the accumulative value for the entirety of 2020 will be much less than 2019.

Apiphan Charoenanusorn, Co-President at Siam Commercial Bank, also said that the value of credit card spending has declined by 10 per cent in the first quarter when compared year-on-year. Lowered purchasing power and credit cards being maxed up are the main reasons for the decline in credit card spending, she added.

Food Delivery 

With malls deciding to deliver their own products, as well as food from restaurants within their stores, the food delivery business might feel competition rising. However, they are still at the forefront of the market right now.

According to Kasikorn Research Center, the food delivery industry has expanded by 35-40 per cent between March 22 and April 30 or around 3.3 billion baht to 4.5 billion baht. The market was worth 33-35 billion baht in 2019 with an average growth rate of 10 per cent per year.

The e-commerce market also has the potential to grow by another 20-30 per cent from 26.2 billion baht to 33 billion baht in 2020 due to an increase in online shopping. 

Currently, there are four major food delivery businesses in Thailand, including Grab Food, which has the most order number at 1 million orders per month. This number has increased to 3 million orders per month since the outbreak began in January.

At the same time, more than 2,000 restaurants have been trying to apply for their service every day since the outbreak, up to three times more than normal. The company now has more than 100,000 drivers, increased by 29,000 in the past two months, and they are hiring 35,000 more drivers in April.    

LINE Man has expanded to more than 44 million users in the past three years with a 300 per cent increase in orders during the same period of time. Even though they charge more than other services, they do not have a limit on the delivery distance. They are now hiring more than 50,000 drivers to accommodate the millions of orders per month.

Foodpanda is also growing rapidly with more restaurants and street foods signing up for their service. They have more than one million orders per month and 30,000 drivers.

Get Food is the latest entry with over 2.2 million mobile application downloads so far. They have more than 100,000 orders per month and around 40,000 drivers in their fleet.

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