British economy contracted by 1.6 percent in first quarter

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British economy
image source: 3wge.com

Britain’s economy suffered a bigger hit than first thought between January and March as the coronavirus lockdown took its toll and households saved at record levels, according to official figures.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said gross domestic product (GDP) – a measure of the size of the economy – contracted by 1.6 per cent in the first quarter, compared with the previous estimate of 1.5 per cent.

This means GDP was 8.8 per cent below its pre-pandemic levels at the start of the year, against the 8.7 per cent initial estimate.

The ONS said households slashed their spending and instead piled cash into savings, with the household saving ratio increasing to 19.9 per cent, compared with 16.1 per cent in the previous three months.

It is the second highest figure on record, beaten only by the 25.9 per cent seen in the second quarter of 2020.

Jonathan Athow, deputy national statistician at the ONS, said: “Today’s updated GDP figures show the same picture as our earlier estimate, with schools, hospitality and retail all hit by the reimposition of the lockdown in January and February, with some recovery in March.

“With many services unavailable, households again saved at record levels with only last spring seeing more saved.”

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