THE economy is bouncing back a bit quicker than previously thought, the latest official figures show, giving hope to businesses around the country that they can survive Covid.
One day after the economy partially re-opened, with shops, hairdressers and outdoor pubs back in business, the Office for National Statistics said UK gross domestic product rose 0.4% in February. It is still 8% below its pre-pandemic level.
More tellingly, new estimates said GDP fell by 2.2% in January, much better than the 2.9% figure previously recorded.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) expects the UK to post 5.3% growth in 2021, and 5.1% in 2022. This would make the UK the fastest-growing G7 country.
Emma-Lou Montgomery at Fidelity International said: “After a sobering start to the year, February’s GDP figures show a rosier picture.
“There is much reason for optimism. Consumers have enthusiastically returned to the high street, glasses have been raised to the opening of outdoor dining and drinking as restrictions ease and the vaccination programme continues at pace. “
This points towards a positive direction of travel for the UK economy.
An ONS spokesperson said:
“The economy showed some improvement in February after the large falls seen at the start of the year but remains around 8% below its pre-pandemic level.
“Wholesalers and retailers both saw sales pick up a little, while manufacturing improved with car producers experiencing a partial recovery from a poor January.”
The ONS added: “Construction grew strongly after revised figures showed they had struggled in the last couple of months.
“Exports to the EU recovered significantly from their January fall, though still remain below 2020 levels. However, imports from the EU are yet to significantly rebound, with a number of issues hampering trade.”
The vaccine roll out has boosted consumer confidence. Economists predict a spending splurge as people spend money saved during lockdown.