UK Economy Grows in April as Shops Reopen

The UK economy has grown by 2.3% throughout April, the fastest monthly growth since July last year.

Shoppers spent more on the high street as non-essential shops reopened, in addition to an increase in car and caravan sales.

There was evidence of higher spending in pubs, cafes and restaurants as restrictions eased, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Despite the surge in spending activity, the UK economy is still 3.7% below the pre-pandemic peak.

Construction also fell in April, in comparison to the strong growth in previous months, but the sector remains above its pre-pandemic peak.

Mark Richardson, Partner at BB&J Commercial commented “these figures are a promising sign that our economy is starting to recover again. We have also seen a huge influx in demand for not just retail properties, but office spaces and industrial units as people return to work or need extra space due to online deliveries.”

More than one million people have come off the government’s furlough scheme in March and April as businesses reopened. As more people have returned to work and school there has been a strong growth in retail spending, a boost in the hospitality sector, and car and caravan purchases, which in turn has had a great impact on the economy.

Spending in non-essential shops drove a large proportion of the growth, as customers were allowed back into stores from 12 April in England, with clothes stores seeing a boost of 69.4%.

Overall growth in the services sector was 3.4%, although this remains 4.1% below pre-pandemic levels of February 2020. This includes restaurants, bars and cafes, where customers could eat and drink outdoors again, seeing a 39% rise in growth.

People also used the ability to travel across the country again, with activity at caravan parks and holiday lets growing by 68.6%, while hairdressers and other personal services grew by 63.5%.

Mark Richardson added “Regardless of any pause in the reopening of some industries, economic activity levels are looking extremely promising and I hope to see this persist as the year continues.”

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