UK economy bounces back in summer but faces wintry chills

LONDON (AP) — The British economy remained nearly 10 per cent smaller at the end of the third quarter despite posting a record bounceback in the summer, when many of the restrictions that had been placed on businesses to control the pandemic were lifted. The imposition of new limits on public life in the autumn means the economy will likely end the year even smaller.

The Office for National Statistics said yesterday that the economy grew by 15.5 per cent in the July to September period. Though that was in line with market expectations, the data shows that the recovery was already running out of steam in September, before a resurgence of the coronavirus led to the economically damaging reimposition of new restrictions.

The third quarter growth did not make up for the record 19.8 per cent slump of the second quarter, when much of the economy was shuttered to fight the coronavirus, and the 2.5 per cent fall in the first three months of the year when the virus started to affect everyday life.

Despite the third-quarter improvement, the statistics agency said the economy was still 9.7 per cent below where it was at the end of 2019.

The worry is that the economy will shrink again over the winter months after the resurgence of the virus led to fresh curbs on everyday life across the United Kingdom (UK) and amid uncertainty around whether a post-Brexit trade deal with the European Union (EU) will be reached.

A man crosses a quiet street filled with Christmas lights in central London on November 9. PHOTO: AP