Coronavirus (COVID-19): retailers’ reactions in Thailand

Date : 19 May 2020

Retailers in Thailand are responding quickly to shoppers’ concern at their stores, while looking after their employees.

The broader context for Thailand

Thailand reported its first COVID-19 case in January but had been recording low numbers in new infections. This started to change on 15 March as a few large clusters were identified in Bangkok and the number of cases increased. The Thai government has ordered all schools to be closed and entertainment outlets around Bangkok to be closed for two weeks.

Sports venues, like boxing stadiums and swimming pools, will also be closed until further notice. On 21 March, all Bangkok shopping malls and non-essential retail stores have closed until 12 April. Supermarkets, pharmacies, food take-out and delivery will remain open in these malls.Thailand imposed a six-hour night curfew from 10pm to 4am on April 3.

The government is easing lockdown measures as of 4 May. Restaurants, hair salons, parks, markets, open-air sports venues such as tennis courts, golf courses, shooting and archery ranges, and pet grooming salons and nurseries are reopening. Social distancing rules are still in effect and are strictly adhered to. The ban on alcohol, which has been in place since the beginning of April, will be lifted. However, drinking is limited to home consumption. There is no alcohol in restaurants and operators need to seat their customers 1.5m apart from one another.

The government decided to allow stores and some businesses to reopen on 17 May after the number of new Covid-19 patients and fatalities dropped to single digits. All shops must close by 8pm so shoppers can get home by the curfew which starts at 11pm. Shoppers are required to load the Thai Chana mobile app for check-in and check-out at shops. The app has been created to collect visitor records in shops and also provide details such as opening hours and visitor limits among others. 

Donations and schemes to support fight against COVID-19

  • BJC Big C Foundation presents 120,000 Azithromycin tablets to support COVID-19 treatment in the U.K. through H.E. Mr. Brian Davidson, British Ambassador to Thailand
  • CP Group invests THB100m (US$31,000) to build a factory to produce face masks to help combat Covid-19. Masks will be given free to medical personnels in hospitals and the factory will be handed over to a hospital after the pandemic.
  • JD Central shoppers will be able to either convert JD Points from the loyalty programme to cash donations or buy cash donation coupons directly on its e-commerce platform. All donations will go to the Rama Foundation, which has been supporting the fight against COVID-19 in Thailand. The foundation will use the funds to purchase medical equipment for hospitals across the country.

Big C launches free delivery service

Shoppers can call Big C via its call center, Line application and Drive-thru service to order up to 200 products and get it delivered to their home. Free delivery is available for a minimum order of THB799 (US$24.60). Call for Shop service operates daily from 09:00 - 16:00. Mr. Phidsanu Pongwatana, Senior Executive Vice President, Hyper & Market Operations of Big C Supercenter Plc said, "Big C immediately joins in to protect and prevent the spread of COVID-19 respecting  Social Distancing rule, we are concerned about customers’ health so we launched Call for Shop service to allow you to shop normally.” 

Songkran holiday postponed

Thailand has announced the postponement of its traditional new year celebrations, originally scheduled for 13-15 April, due to spread of COVID-19. Bangkok typically closes off streets during April for traditional water fights but has called off the activities this year. Most of Thailand’s provinces have banned sales of alcoholic beverages to limit the spread of the coronavirus through social gathering. 

Central Food Retail Group

Central Food Retail Group, which operates Central Food Hall, Tops Supermarket, FamilyMart and Tops Daily chain of stores, has produced a video in line with precautionary measures issued by Thailand’s Ministry of Health to prevent the spread of COVID-19:

  • Cleaning and sanitising frequently touched surfaces
  • Checking staff’s temperature
  • Providing alcohol-based hand sanitisers at entry points
  • UV-C disinfection robots are used to help disinfect stores by destroying 99.99% of all pathogens with no harmful side effects on food
  • Plexiglass panels are added to checkout counters for social distancing

The retailer also extended stores’ opening hours to 08:00 – 23:00 on 21-22 March at selected branches to provide shoppers with access to essential goods.

The retailer has announced a range of support for their employees:

  • Pregnant women, those with disabilities and parents with children under three months old can work from home with full pay from 24 March until 12 April
  • Employees with lung issues, respiratory or other health conditions can submit their medical certificate and request to work from home with full pay
  • All front-line employees will receive vitamin C supplements to help strengthen their health
  • The company offers free COVID-19 insurance for all staff

CPALL

CPALL, which operates 7-Eleven in Thailand, has conveyed the seven steps taken in its stores, which includes:

  • Requirement for staff to clean their hands frequently
  • Disinfecting around the cashier, like payment devices
  • Disinfecting contact areas, like handles of entrances and fridge doors
  • Cleaning shopping trolleys after each use
  • Increased frequency of floor cleaning
  • Masks for all service staff in-store and in the back room
  • Temperature check daily for all staff including those in the office

This is done via videos and posters on social media and in store.

The retailer is recruiting for 20,000 positions to deliver from 7-Eleven stores to help those who want to limit social exposure and use of public transport. This service is at 1,500 7-Eleven stores nationwide and will be expanded gradually.

Food delivery demand increase

Operators like Foodpanda, Lineman and Grab have seen orders rise significantly from a year ago. The Thai authorities have warned operators not to increase their commission for restaurants.

  • Foodpanda is keeping its commission at 30%. Foodpanda is rolling out a package to support riders with insurance, masks, santisers. The package also includes free delivery and vouchers for restaurants
  • Lineman is charging between 20% to 30% for restaurants who opted into the platform's promotional program

Looking for more insight?

  • Get the latest insights on Coronavirus (COVID-19) to help your business understand what the food and grocery industry is doing around the world to address the evolving pandemic.