UK economy grows on camping and dining outNick Rawlings
The UK economy grew by 0.4% in August as more people dined out, went on holiday and attended music festivals.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the services sector made the biggest contribution to economic growth in the first full month after all Covid restrictions were lifted in England.
It said arts, entertainment and recreation grew 9%, boosted by sports clubs, amusement parks and festivals.
There was also more demand for hotels and campsites.
Restrictions on social distancing were eased from 19 July.
The ONS said the economy is now 0.8% smaller than it was before the pandemic.
“The economy picked up in August as bars, restaurants and festivals benefited from the first full month without Covid-19 restrictions in England,” said Darren Morgan, director of economic statistics at the ONS.
“However, later and slightly weaker data from a number of industries now mean we estimate the economy fell a little overall in July.”
The ONS said economic growth fell by 0.1% in July compared with initial estimates of 0.1% growth.
Activity in accommodation and food services rose by 10.3% in August, within which hotels and campsites recorded 22.9% growth.
In travel, air transport and rail both grew in August as Covid-related measures eased, however both industry are still trading far below pre-pandemic levels.
Emma-Lou Montgomery associate director at Fidelity International, said that while August’s growth “marks a small rebound” on July, “the worry remains that economic growth won’t even be in touching distance of pre-pandemic levels until well into next year”.
She said supply chain disruption risks dampening consumer confidence.
“This all comes in the crucial lead up to Christmas, when suppliers and retailers should be firing on all cylinders,” Ms Montgomery said.”But with households facing steep price rises for everyday items, from the food shop through to the gas bill, there will be little desire – or capacity – to spend, spend, spend.”