LONDON: Britain’s economy performed better than expected in the second quarter, as households spent more and saved less following easing lockdown restrictions, official data showed Thursday.
Gross domestic product in the three months to June jumped 5.5 percent, up sharply from a prior official estimate of 4.8 percent, the Office for National Statistics said in a statement, citing also ONS accounting changes, reports AFP.
The outlook also darkened Thursday with the end of the UK government’s costly furlough scheme, threatening a spike in unemployment after supporting millions of private-sector jobs during the pandemic.
Added to the mix, consumers and businesses are contending with runaway gas prices and a chronic shortage of lorry drivers that has helped spark a run on motor fuel.
“While the upward revisions to GDP are clearly welcome, the second quarter was three months ago, and the recovery appears to have stagnated since,” said Ruth Gregory, senior economist at research consultancy Capital Economics.
Recent official data showed the UK economy grew by just 0.1 percent in July.
The ONS on Thursday added that the economy shrank by 1.4 percent in the first quarter, up from the previous estimate of a 1.6-percent contraction.
“Today we’ve published new, revised estimates of GDP, which include numerous improvements to sources and methods,” he added.
The ONS noted however that the British economy remained 3.3 percent below its level in the final quarter of 2019 before the pandemic struck. Thursday’s news means that Britain was no longer a laggard in the G7 group of richest countries, according to Pantheon Macro economist Samuel Tombs.
The upward revision in the second quarter brings the UK economy’s performance in line with other G7 economies, he said.
“The 3.3-percent shortfall in GDP from its fourth-quarter 2019 peak now is identical to that seen in Germany, similar to the 3.2-percent shortfall in France, and better than the 3.8-percent shortfall in Italy,” he added.