The UK economy bounced back over the summer as the end of lockdown restrictions and the government’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme came into effect.
Figures from the Office of National Statistics, published this morning (November 12), show gross domestic product grew by 15.5 per cent in the three months to September — a record jump.
The positive Q3 figures followed a record decline of 19 per cent in Q2, when government restrictions put in place to curb the coronavirus dramatically reduced economic activity.
However, although the figures reflected some recovery of activity following the contraction in Q2, the level of GDP in the UK in the three months to September was still 9.7 per cent below where it was at the end of 2019.
Compared with the same quarter a year ago, the UK economy fell by 9.6 per cent.
Economic growth also slowed as the quarter went on, with September seeing just a 1.1 per cent rise in GDP.
Jonathan Athow, deputy national statistician for economic statistics at the ONS, said: “While all main sectors of the economy continued to recover, the rate of growth slowed again, with the economy still remaining well below its pre-pandemic peak.”
The economy is likely to shrink again in the final quarter of the year as a second round of lockdowns, varying in different home nations, limits economic activity.
Jon Hudson, fund manager at Premier Miton, said: “With lockdown restrictions back in place, Q4 is likely to weaken further, however, thanks to the recent positive Pfizer vaccine news, we can potentially start looking forward to GDP growth in 2021 with more confidence.”
On Monday, global markets rallied after developers Pfizer and BioNTech announced that preliminary analysis showed their vaccine was 90 per cent effective in their latest round of trials.
The companies, which plan to apply for emergency approval to use the vaccine by the end of the month, said it was a “great day for science and humanity”.
Laith Khalaf, financial analyst at AJ Bell, said: “A strong rebound in the economy is clearly positive, but we should keep the champagne on ice for now.
“The summer boom was turbo-charged by the Eat Out to Help Out scheme, while the furlough scheme worked its magic by keeping unemployment under wraps.”
Mr Khalaf said the real “litmus test” for the economy going forward was how soon it could return to pre-pandemic levels.
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