Thailand flag Thailand: Buying and Selling

The distribution network in Thailand

Evolution of the Sector
The growth of the Thai retail industry has been largely driven by economic growth. The Covid-19 pandemic negatively impacted the retail sector, which contracted by 6% in 2021, with sales amounting to USD 103 billion (USDA). Inversely, online retail sales reached USD 51 billion in 2021, up from USD 46 billion in 2020 (USDA). E-commerce sales of food and beverage was USD 498 million in 2021, up 14% compared to 2020 (Euromonitor). E-commerce could represent 11% of total retail sales (USDA).

The retail food market structure continues to grow with hypermarkets, supermarkets, cash and carry and convenience stores serving different segments. The latter is continuing to gain market share while traditional retailers gradually decline. Modern food retailing accounts for approximately 70% of total retail sales as the flow of local shoppers has been diverted from wet markets and grocery stores to hypermarkets and supermarkets. Although supermarkets have fewer numbers of outlets compared to larger hypermarkets, their influence on the lifestyles of urbanised Thais, expatriates and upper-income communities has been significant.

Most investments have come from the leading international retail chains such as, among others, hypermarket UK-based Tesco with its Tesco Lotus stores, and cash and carry Netherlands-based Siam Makro. Locally run supermarkets and convenience stores also have increased in numbers and include stores such as Villa Market, Tops Marketplace, Foodland Supermarket, and 7-Eleven.

Most food retailers recently modified their marketing strategies by expanding their private label product offerings, instituting money promotions, providing discounts and starting loyalty programs in order to attract customers and maintain market share.

Market share
Modern food retailing dominates the market with around 70% of total retail sales. According to the latest data from USDA, the retail food market is divided as follows:

•    Convenience Stores have experienced a continuous growth in comparison to traditional retailers. Competition in this sector is high as Thailand has a total of 20,323 stores nationwide, with 970 stores opening in 2021 alone. Convenience stores serve ready-to-eat meals and fruits, baked goods, healthy snacks and ready-to-eat fresh fruits and vegetables. The main convenience stores are 7-eleven, Tesco Lotus Express, Mini Big C.
•    Supermarkets are highly competitive and are concentrated in Bangkok and in other major provinces. Thailand’s supermarket segment has many players including Central Food Retail (Central Food Hall and Tops Supermarket), MaxValu, The Mall Group (Gourmet Market), Villa Market, UFM Fuji, and Foodland. The middle to high income consumers remain the key target segment for supermarkets, driven by a desire for premium products and services.
•    Hyper Market/ Cash & Carry. The main ones are: Tesco Lotus Hypermarket, Big C Hypermarket, Siam Makro.
•    On-line Retailing: Online retail sales reached USD 51 billion in 2021, up from USD 46 billion in 2020, according to the Electronic Transactions Development Agency (USDA). A rapid growth in smartphone penetration and rising internet penetration has allowed Thais to access the internet at their convenience and at fast speeds. COVID-19 accelerated the growth of online grocery purchases.

Retail Sector Organisations
Thai Retailers Association

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Latest Update: September 2022

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