BLACK CLOTHES have been selling out fast at shops across Thailand, which has become a veritable sea of black as loyal subjects mourn the passing of much-revered HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
His Majesty passed away peacefully at the age of 88 on Thursday, prompting an outpouring of grief and the beginning of a sombre mourning period.
Shopping malls have been packed with shoppers buying black garments in tribute to the late King.
Wholesale clothes markets in the Bo Bae and Pratunam areas yesterday also attracted large crowds seeking black clothing, with severe traffic jams in surrounding motorways.
The Traffic Police Division said that since the morning, traffic congestion had been reported in nearby Chakkrapadipong Road, Phya Thai Road, Phetchaburi Road, Rama IX Road, Asok-Din Daeng Road and Phaholyothin Road.
The tailbacks also affected vehicles trying to exit the expressway to the Victory Monument area and Phaholyothin Road.
By 11.30am, according to traffic police, a huge number of people were also heading to Central Lat Phrao and Union Mall, with snarl-ups reported in surrounding roads.
Speaking to AFP from her streetside stall at Pratunam, 45-year-old Somporn Sriwichai, who usually sells children’s dresses, said: “All of us in Thailand are very sad and I don’t want to be selling black clothing. But I have very little money and now I have something I can really sell.”
Somporn said she shifted 100 items on Friday alone. She is making more money than she has in weeks, selling T-shirts and polo shirts for between Bt150 and Bt250.
In Sa Kaeo province, the big Rong Kluea Market ran out of black clothes yesterday due to the overwhelming demand.
Vehicles heading to the market caused long tailbacks from 9am. Inside, people snapped up black garments with sad faces.
With such huge demand, prices jumped by 20 per cent for both new and second-hand items later in the day.
“But I’ve heard that all black pieces were sold out fast. People who dropped in later had to return empty-handed,” Major Chan Wongwaimethee, chief of the 1201st ranger company based in Sa Kaeo province, said yesterday.
A Cambodian businessman said the sudden massive demand for black clothes reflected the overwhelming love that Thai people had for the late King.
“If you look around, you will even see that Cambodian vendors at the Rong Kluea Market also wear black now. After spending years at the market, they too have learned about the King’s great and kind contributions to the well-being of his people. We mourn along with Thais,” he said.
The Commerce Ministry has advised members of the public to file complaints if they find any shop overcharging for black clothes. If convicted, offenders could be liable to seven years in jail or a maximum fine of Bt140,000.