The volume of goods and services produced by the UK economy rose 2.3% in the month, according to the Office for National Statistics. This more than offset the 1.5% drop in the third foreclosure in the first quarter and put the increase in gross domestic product on track for a strong second quarter.
With slightly better performance than economists’ already optimistic forecasts, GDP was 3.7% below the pre-pandemic level in February 2020, the smallest gap since the start of the crisis.
Jonathan Athow, ONS deputy national statistician for economic statistics, said: “The strong growth in retail spending, the increase in car and trailer purchases, the schools open throughout the month and the start of the reopening of the hotel industry all boosted the economy in April. ”
He added that the growth rate would have been even stronger had it not been for the often erratic decline of the pharmaceutical industry, the shutdowns of many auto factories caused by the global semiconductor shortage and the large-scale maintenance of oil fields.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak said these figures were “a promising sign that our economy is starting to recover”.
The service sector grew 3.4% from the previous month, with the reopening of consumer services doing the “big push” for the economy, according to Jay Mawji, managing director of e-commerce provider IX Prime. .
Accommodation services activities grew by almost 70% thanks to the recovery of caravan parks and vacation rentals, with similar expansion rates recorded in personal service activities, such as hairdressing. Food service production increased by 39%, with pubs, restaurants and cafes able to serve customers in outdoor seating areas.
Education was also a major source of growth, as more students returned to face-to-face classes in April.
Production is expected to increase further in May after the reopening of domestic hotels and other businesses.
Ed Monk, managing partner of investment management firm Fidelity International, said “Spending in the recently reopened non-core retail and hospitality sector was the biggest impact on the month, suggesting that households were clamoring to go out and spend. again. ”
He noted that pre-pandemic production levels could now be exceeded by the end of the second quarter, adding “to the feeling at the Bank of England that some monetary stimulus measures may soon have to be removed.”
The shadow of the coronavirus and a delay in the final reopening of the economy still looms over the outlook, but economists have played down concerns.
James Smith, an economist at investment bank ING, said ending most restrictions on June 21 would likely be postponed, but likely only a few weeks until more people have been fully immunized, which would mean “that from an economic point of view, the impact is unlikely to be huge.
Separate data released by the ONS on Friday showed UK trade gradually increased in April, with the effects of the coronavirus and the imposition of post-Brexit customs controls no longer dominating the numbers.
Imports increased from EU countries and non-EU countries during the month, the ONS said, while exports to the EU increased slightly, but fell to countries non-EU members.
The overall statistical picture of trade after the end of the transition period with the EU is complicated by UK figures which do not match those released by the bloc’s statistical agencies, which show a much larger Brexit effect on the volumes of ‘trade in both imports and exports since the beginning of the year.