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UK economy grows by 6.6% in July

The UK economy continued on its trajectory of recovery in July —growing by some 6.6 percent according to a release from the Office for National Statistics (ONS). But it still has far to go before making up for all the GDP that has been lost since the coronavirus outbreak.

Commenting on the GDP figures for July, ONS director of economic statistics Darren Morgan said:

“While it has continued steadily on the path towards recovery, the UK economy still has to make up nearly half of the GDP lost since the start of the pandemic.

“Education grew strongly as some children returned to school, while pubs, campsites and hairdressers all saw notable improvements. Car sales exceeded pre-crisis levels for the first time with showrooms having a particularly busy time.

“All areas of manufacturing, particularly distillers and car makers, saw improvements, while housebuilding also continued to recover. However, both production and construction remain well below previous levels.”

Monthly gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 6.6 percent in July 2020 as lockdown measures continued to ease, following growth of 8.7 percent in June and 2.4 percent in May and a record fall of 20 percent in April 2020.

July 2020 GDP is now 18.6 percent higher than its April 2020 low the ONS said.

Despite July’s growth, the overall level of output did not fully recover from the record falls seen across March and April 2020 and was still 11.7 percent below the levels seen in February 2020, before the full impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Looking ahead, the outlook is not great. Results from a Business Impact of COVID-19 Survey (BICS), which covered the dates 10 to 23 August 2020, found that of businesses currently trading, 47 per cent reported their turnover had decreased below what is normally expected for August.

SERVICES

in July 2020, the services sector grew by 6.1 percent the ONS said, following growth of 7.7 percent in June. The largest positive contributors to this increase were:

  • education, which grew by 21.1 percent as some children returned to school
  • wholesale, retail and repair of motor vehicles subsector (in particular, the motor vehicles industry), which recovered to above its February 2020 level after seeing record low levels of output in April and May
  • accommodation and food service activities, which grew by 140.8 percent as lockdown measures eased; however, the level of output was 60.1 percent lower than its February 2020 level

Despite the increase in services, the level of services output was still 12.6 percent lower than the level in February 2020 before the main impacts of the coronavirus (COVID-19) were seen.

A view of the City of London from Southbank. Photo: Ricky Browne

Looking at the rolling three-month growth, services output fell by 8.1 percent in July 2020, following falls of 19.9 percent in June, 18.5 percent in May and 10.5 percent in April. This was driven by falls in nearly every industry, most notably:

  • health, which fell by 23.6 percent as a result of reduced activity in elective operations and fewer accident and emergency visits
  • food and beverage service activities, which fell by 60.1 percent as a result of the closure of bars and restaurants
  • education, which fell by 14.3 percent as a result of school closures
  • accommodation, which fell by 69.2 percent as a result of the closure of hotels and other short-stay accommodation 

PRODUCTION

Production also grew in July, though by a slightly slower rate, growing by 5.2 percent, with manufacturing growing by 6.3 percent the ONS said.

The manufacturing sector saw all 13 subsectors increasing, following large falls across March and April 2020. But despite that growth, production output was 7.0 percent lower than the level in February 2020, with manufacturing 8.7 percent lower.

CONSTRUCTION

Month-on-month, output in construction grew by 17.6 percent according to the ONS, following growth of 23.6 percent in June and 7.6 percent in May and a record fall of 40.2 percent in April 2020.

The increase was driven by new housing and in particular private new housing (18.1 percent weight to construction), which grew by 30.3 percent after large declines in March and April.

But despite growth in the construction sector, output remains 11.6 percent lower than the level in February 2020 before the full impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

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