Latest economic news and indicators for the UK

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The latest economic news and indicators for the UK make gloomy reading and as we are in lock down they will probably remain so for the foreseeable future.

Remember though, they should be taken for what they are – a snapshot at a particular point in time, and once the vaccination programme fully kicks in and lock down restrictions ease, we should see an improvement in our lives and businesses. 

Retailers had their worst annual sales performance on record in 2020, driven by loss of demand for fashion and homeware products, figures from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) show.

Food sales growth rose 5.4% on 2019, non-food fell about 5%, this is an overall fall of 0.3% in a year dominated by the Covid-19 impact. 

This is the worst annual change since the BRC began collating the figures in 1995.

The latest Government surveys show for all businesses, excluding those who have permanently ceased trading, 11% of their workforce are on furlough leave, a decrease from 16% previously.

UK footfall overall is down by 38% compared to January 2020 and we can expect this to fall further as we stay in lock down.   

The Chancellor has stated that the UK economy “to get worse before it gets better” and that the new national restrictions were necessary to control the spread of coronavirus.

We expect to see further Government supports announced shortly and we will keep our clients fully informed of when and how these will be applied. 

What is interesting is that according to the most recent results from of the Business Impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) Survey (November 30 to December 13, 2020), 84% of UK businesses were trading, an increase from 80% in the last survey (November 16 to November 29).

Clearly this will fall in January, February and March as the lock down continues.

What these figures do show to us is that businesses are resilient and adapting to the changes caused by the pandemic.