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GDP Monthly Estimate: April 2021

UK economic activity accelerated in April as the UK came out of lockdown. GDP grew by 2.3% over the month, the strongest growth rate since July 2020.

The Services sector (+3.4%) saw the largest bounce as retail sales were boosted by the reopening of non-essential stores, Meanwhile, the Construction (-2.0%) and Production (-1.3%) sectors both contracted in April, mainly because of strong performances over the previous month.

April’s GDP remains 3.7% below pre-pandemic levels of February 2020, but it is now 1.2% above the initial Covid-19 recovery peak seen in October 2020.

UK GDP grew by 2.3% in April as the economy reopened post-lockdown

Source: ONS

Services

Services output picked up considerably in April, rising by 3.4% month-on-month, as restrictions on consumer-facing industries were eased.

Retail sales volumes grew sharply in April, with a monthly increase of 9.2%, reflecting the re-opening of non-essential stores from 12 April in England and Wales and from 26 April in Scotland.

Accommodation services grew by 68.6% as caravan parks and holiday lets picked up, while food and beverage services grew by 39.0% as pubs, restaurants and cafes were permitted to serve customers in outdoor seating areas.

On a three-month rolling basis, services output grew by 1.4%, reflecting the ongoing recovery in retail sales, which was partly offset by a decline in educational activities as schools were closed in February and some of March. Overall, Services output is still 4.1% below its pre-pandemic level of February 2020.

Production

Production output fell by 1.3% in April, the first decline since the start of the year when Covid-19 restrictions were re-introduced. The sector is now 3.5% below its February 2020 level.

Following two months of growth, the Manufacturing sector contracted slightly by 0.3%. The largest downward contribution came from the manufacture of pharmaceutical products (-16.0%) and transport equipment (-2.8%).

Mining and quarrying output contracted by 15.0% in April, mainly because of an 18.2% fall in extraction of crude petroleum and natural gas. Planned temporary closures for maintenance of oil field production sites and a fall in fuels exports were the main reasons for this. 

In the three months to April, production output increased by 0.5%.

Construction

Construction output fell by 2.0% month-on-month in April, following exceptionally strong growth in March. The drop was a result of a fall in both new work (-2.9%) and repair and maintenance (-0.6%). 

Despite this, the Construction sector remains 0.3% above February 2020’s pre-pandemic levels.

Construction output increased by 5.1% in the three months to April, as the sector remained open during lockdown, benefitting from a rise in home building activity and public sector infrastructure projects since the start of the year.

GDP sector breakdown

Source: ONS

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