UK economic growth slows unexpectedly in August

The UK economy grew by less than expected in August despite a boost from the hospitality sector with output remaining well below pre-pandemic levels.

UK gross domestic product increased by 2.1 per cent from July, but the expansion fell short of the 4.6 per cent consensus forecast by economists polled by Reuters, pointing to a long path to a full recovery.

The unexpected slowdown in growth, reported by the Office for National Statistics, followed strong monthly expansions earlier in the summer.

One bright spot in August was the food and beverage service sector, where activity grew by 69.7 per cent thanks to the impact of easing lockdown restrictions and the government’s “eat out to help out” subsidised meals.

The accommodation industry also grew by 76 per cent as international travel restrictions boosted domestic “staycations”.

Services as a whole, which account for about 80 per cent of the economy, expanded at a monthly rate of 2.4 per cent in August.

Overall, August’s output growth was slower than a revised down 6.4 per cent expansion in July, when the economy benefited from the reopening of the hospitality sector.

Monthly economic output in August remained 9.2 per cent below pre-pandemic levels in February, signalling that a full recovery, which is key for the survival of many jobs and businesses, was still distant.

The UK pound barely moved at $1.2939 after the figures were released early on Friday.

In the industrial sector in August growth nearly halted as the rate slowed to 0.3 per cent from 5.3 per cent in July.

Before the resurgence in coronavirus infections and a rise in Brexit uncertainty, the Bank of England calculated that GDP was not projected to exceed its level in the final quarter of 2019 until the end of 2021.

The UK is only a few countries that calculate monthly GDP data, usually produced on a quarterly basis.

In the second quarter, the UK suffered the sharpest economic contraction of any G7 country.

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