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UK economy grows in April with stores reopening

Customers at Briggate

The UK economy grew 2.3% in April, its fastest monthly growth since July of last year.

Shoppers spent more on the High Street as non-essential stores reopened and people bought more cars and trailers.

There was also more spending at pubs, cafes and restaurants as restrictions eased, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

Despite the surge in activity, the UK economy is still 3.7% below its pre-pandemic peak.

Construction fell in April, compared to the strong growth the month before, but the sector remains above its pre-pandemic peak.

But Chancellor Rishi Sunak said the numbers were “a promising sign that our economy is starting to recover.”

UK economy grows in April with stores reopening

GDP growth in April

Mr Sunak said more than a million people left the government’s leave program in March and April when businesses reopened.

Jonathan Athow, ONS deputy national statistician for economic statistics, said: “Strong growth in retail spending, increased car and trailer purchases, schools open throughout the month and the start of the reopening of the hospitality industry all boosted the economy in April. “

Yael Selfin, chief economist at KPMG UK, said buyers flocked to the High Street as households spend part of their savings on non-essentials.

Spending at non-essential stores was behind much of the growth, with customers allowed to return to stores from April 12 in England, with clothing stores seeing an increase of 69, 4%.

Overall growth in the service sector was 3.4%, although it remains 4.1% below pre-pandemic levels in February 2020.

This included restaurants, bars and cafes, where customers could once again eat and drink outside, with a 39% increase in growth.

People also used the opportunity to travel across the country again, with activity in caravan parks and vacation rentals increasing 68.6%, while hairdressers and other personal services increased by 63. 5%.

Miatta Fahnbulleh, managing director of UK think tank New Economics Foundation, told the BBC the numbers were in line with what was expected “which is a big rebound as restrictions have been eased and the economy is starting to return to the normal”.

“But underneath it is probably going to be a two-half story – GDP numbers tell us the economy is recovering, but it will likely be uneven, with the rebound being driven by parts of the economy that have been essentially isolated. worst parts of the pandemic and other sectors of the economy – those without work or small businesses – are really struggling, especially as the government begins to cut some [support] go into the fall. “

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