London, Sep 30 (IANS) Britain’s economy shrank by a record 19.8 per cent in the second quarter, entering recession over the coronavirus lockdown, but the contraction was less severe than first thought, official data showed on Wednesday.
The fall was the biggest since the Office for National Statistics (ONS) records began in 1955. Other data has suggested Britain is on course for its biggest annual fall since the 1920s.
Britain’s economy had already shrunk by 2.5 per cent in the January-March period as the country entered lockdown in late March, CGTN reported.
Output has rebounded in recent months but the recovery looks to be fading with rising coronavirus cases and forecasts of a jump in unemployment as the government scales back job support.
“The renewed Covid-19 restrictions will probably mean that GDP stagnates in Q4, leaving economic activity marooned 5.5 per cent short of its pre-crisis level,” Ruth Gregory of consultancy Capital Economics said.
“And the risk now is that renewed containment measures send the recovery into reverse,” she added.
Britain has suffered Europe’s highest death toll from COVID-19, with more than 42,000 fatalities.
Compared with a year earlier, Britain’s second quarter output tumbled 21.5 per cent – the same as in Spain – while France reported a 19 percent drop.
The statistics office said differences in how countries estimated public sector activity ” especially whether they focused on money spent or used the ONS’s approach of looking at the extent of disruption to normal services ” complicated international comparisons.
Nonetheless, it said Britain’s economy shrank more than any other Group of Seven economy in the first half of 2020.
There have been some bright spots in the recovery.
Retail spending exceeded pre-pandemic levels in July and August “driven by a boom in online shopping, groceries and home improvement ” and figures on Wednesday showed the biggest annual rise in house prices in more than four years.