Virus-hit UK economy shrinks 19pc in three months to May

LONDON (AFP) – Britain’s economy slumped by almost a fifth in the three months to May compared with the prior December-February period, as the coronavirus lockdown ravaged activity, official data showed yesterday.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said GDP fell by 19.1 per cent in the three months to May “as government restrictions on movement dramatically reduced economic activity”.

Output however grew by 1.8 per cent in May from April as the government began to ease restrictions, particularly boosting construction and manufacturing.

Nevertheless, the United Kingdom (UK) economy is far from recovery after record falls suffered in March and April, when Britain was in full lockdown in a bid to halt the deadly COVID-19 outbreak.

The economy remains about 24.5 per cent below its size in February before the pandemic spread.

“Manufacturing and house-building showed signs of recovery as some businesses saw staff return to work,” said Deputy National Statistician Jonathan Athow at the ONS, in reference to the May data.

“Despite this, the economy was still a quarter smaller in May than in February, before the full effects of the pandemic struck.

“In the important services sector we saw some pick-up in retail, which saw record online sales.

“However, with lockdown restrictions remaining in place, many other services remained in the doldrums, with a number of areas seeing further declines.”