Pawnshop chain expects steady activity
Tungthanasin, the country's largest privately owned pawnshop branch network, expects the rate of
unredeemed pawned items to be steady from last year's 4.9%, suggesting optimism that this year's
economic growth will not deteriorate.

The foreclosed item rate reflects customers' ability to redeem pawned items despite the country's
flagging economy, said Siththreewit Thangtharnarkeat, Tungthanasin's managing director.

A continuous stream of economic stimulus measures by the government is expected to prevent the
economy from decelerating this year, he said.

The rate of unredeemed pawned items at the company, which runs 50 pawnshops under the
Easy Money brand in 20 provinces, fell marginally in 2019 from 5% the previous year.

"Despite greater challenges in 2020, the government's stimulus packages will lend support to
economic momentum," Mr Siththreewit said.

All official bodies -- the Bank of Thailand, the Fiscal Policy Office (FPO) and the National
Economic and Social Development Council (NESDC) -- have forecast the economy to expand at
a faster pace in 2020 than last year.

This expansion is expected to creep along at a slow pace. The central bank forecasts economic
growth of 2.8% this year, compared with 2.5% projected for last year.

The FPO predicts 2020 growth of 3.3%, up from 2.8% forecast for the preceding year, while
the NESDC expects the economy to grow in a range of 2.7-3.7% in 2020, up from 2.6% predicted
for last year.

The company's customers can be divided into two groups: individual clients, mostly salaried
workers who need liquidity for daily living, and entrepreneurs and small and medium-sized
enterprise (SME) operators.

The rise in unredeemed pawned items of the first customer group illustrates the sluggish economy
and people's liquidity crunch, while higher pawn demand in the second group could imply a
positive economic outlook because of the need for liquidity in business expansion.

The company expects the proportion of SME customers to continue to increase this year
from 25% of all customers last year and 23% in 2018.