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Lockdown easing kickstarts economy

Written by: Emma Lunn
UK gross domestic product (GDP) increased by 4.8% in the second quarter of 2021 following the easing of coronavirus restrictions.

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the largest contributors to this increase were from wholesale and retail trade, accommodation and food service activities, and education.

There have been increases in services, production and construction output over the quarter.

Monthly estimates show that GDP increased across all three months at 2.2% in April, 0.6% in May and 1% in June 2021. The level of GDP is now 4.4% below where it was before the coronavirus pandemic in Q4 2019.

Accommodation and food service activities increased by 87.8% in Q2 2021, while wholesale and retail trade increased by 12.8%, in response to the re-opening of indoor hospitality, Euro 2020 and the reopening of non-essential retail. Combined, these consumer-facing services increased by 16.7% in Q2 2021.

Spending on motor vehicles increased sharply by 33.2% in Q2 2021, and is 1.8% above its pre-pandemic level. This rise in demand coincides with the re-opening of car showrooms in England and Wales from 12 April 2021.

Ian Warwick, managing partner at Deepbridge Capital, said: “Although expected with the economy reopening, today’s GDP data is the latest sign of positive growth for the economy. As we continue to focus on economic recovery, it remains critically important that scale-up businesses, particularly in high-growth sectors such as digital technologies and life sciences are supported; as they will be at the very heart of economic growth as we create an economy fit for the twenty-first century.”

Paul Craig, portfolio manager at Quilter Investors, said: “The government will be pleased to see household consumption is driving the economic recovery and will hope this will continue into the summer and beyond as restrictions are now essentially non-existent. With staycations on the cards for the vast majority of the population and air travel tentatively reopening, Rishi Sunak will be hopeful that people keep spending those accumulated savings in the UK.

“There is further optimism for the government too. This Q2 reading will not take into effect ‘freedom day’ and with confidence ever increasing the economy is heading in the right direction. Indeed, the UK was the fastest growing economy in Q2 compared to international peers, something that can be attributed to the huge initial success of the vaccination programme.”

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