COVID-19 SERVICE: We are heightening our efforts to assist the UK retail & leisure industry through this challenging period. Explore this service now… COVID-19 SERVICE

GDP Q1 2021 Quarterly National Accounts


  • UK GDP is estimated to have contracted by 1.6% in Q1 2021, a slight revision on the preliminary estimate of a 1.5% drop.
  • GDP is now 8.8% below its Q4 2019 level, compared to the previous estimate of 8.7%. 
  • The largest contributors to this fall were from the education, wholesale and retail trade, and accommodation and food services industries due to the tightening of coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions. 
  • Real GDP remains below pre-pandemic levels in all G7 countries while nominal GDP has now recovered in US and Canada.

UK GDP fell by 1.6% in the first quarter of 2021 

Source: ONS

GDP breakdown by sector


  • Services output is estimated to have fallen by 2.1% in Q1 2021 and remains 8.8% below Q4 2019 levels. 
  • The education (-14.7%), wholesale and retail trade (-5.7%), and accommodation and food services (-18.6%) industries made the largest contributions to the fall due to the tightening of COVID-19 restrictions. Combined, these consumer facing services fell by 7.5% in Q1 2021.
  • Elsewhere within the services component, Health (+2.2%) experienced an increase in output in Q1 2021, reflecting the inclusion of the effect of the NHS Test and Trace service and coronavirus vaccination programme.


  • Production output fell by a slightly revised 0.5% in Q1 2021, driven by a 1.0% decline in manufacturing output. Production output is now 3.7% below pre-pandemic levels.


  • Construction output increased by 2.3% in Q1 but remains 3.7% below pre-pandemic levels. Rises in private new housing and non-housing repair and maintenance supported the category in the first quarter.
  • Growth was particularly strong in March driven by an increase in demand and confidence across the industry along with unusually warm weather.

Household consumption 

  • Household consumption fell by a revised 4.6% in Q1 2021 due to COVID-19 restrictions being reintroduced. 
  • Spending in restaurants and hotels fell by 42.2%, while spending on Transport (-14.0%), Miscellaneous goods and services (-7.0%), Recreational Goods and Services (-1.9%) and Clothing and Footwear (-3.5%) also fell on the previous quarter.
  • The household saving ratio increased to 19.9% in Q1 2021, which is the second highest on record, compared with 16.1% in Q4 2020.

Back to Retail Economic News