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GDP Monthly Estimate: May 2020

UK gross domestic product (GDP) fell 19.1% in the three months to May 2020, capturing the direct impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The services sector fell by 18.9%, production by 15.5% and construction by 29.8%.

Monthly GDP rose by 1.8% in May, following a 20.3% monthly fall in April and 6.9% fall in March. This was below the consensus view of a 5.5% rise. Despite May’s rise, output has reduced by 24.5% compared with February 2020.

UK GDP growth, Quarter 1 (Jan to Mar) 2005 until March to May 2020

Source: ONS

Services

Services output fell by 18.9% in the three months to May, following a 10.7% fall in April. Notable declines were reported in education (-37.8%) due to school closures during the period while health fell 31.4% as elective operations were reduced and visits to A&E fell. Elsewhere, wholesale and retail trade and repair of motor vehicles, fell 71%, driven by a reduction in new car registrations and food and beverage activities.

On a monthly basis, Services output rose 0.9% in May, with a notable rise recorded in the retail industry which grew 12% driven by strong growth in non-food stores and online. Despite the overall rise, output was 24.4% lower compared with February 2020.

Production

Production fell by 15.5% in the three months to May, with all four sub-categories continuing to decline during the period. Manufacturing fell 18.0% with a sharp fall reported in the manufacture of transport equipment component (-45.7%). Elsewhere, electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply (-9.8%), mining and quarrying (-10.7%) and water supply (-4.6%) also recorded notable declines during the period.

On a monthly basis, production grew 6.0% in May, with manufacturing also rising by 8.4%.

Construction

Construction output declined by 29.8% in the quarter to May, a record decline. This was driven by record falls in private new housing (-42.5%) and private commercial (-29.5%).

Growth on a month-on-month basis rose by 8.2% in May following April’s record decline. This was driven by new housing, notably in private housing (14.2% weight in construction) which grew 21.4%. Interestingly, slower growth was recorded in total repair and maintenance activity (+2.7%) as consumers took on their own DIY projects during lockdown.

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