New Forest


Bounce back brings positive signs of economic growth

With UK gross domestic product (GDP) estimated to have grown by 2.3% in April 2021, the fastest monthly growth since July 2020, the bounce back is clearly underway.

Positive results for the service sector, which saw growth of 3.4% in April 2021 and the re-opening of dining indoors has brought a welcome boost for the hospitality industry.

The service sector grew by 3.4% in April 2021, with consumer-facing services re-opening in line with the easing of coronavirus restrictions and more pupils returning to onsite lessons. April’s GDP remains 3.7% below the pre-pandemic levels seen in February 2020, however it is now 1.2% above its initial recovery peak in October 2020.

HWB Director Michaela Johns has welcomed the signs of growth.

“The percentage of businesses currently trading has increased to 87% in late May (17 to 30 May 2021), the highest proportion since comparable estimates began in June 2020, with a further 3% of businesses intending to restart trading in the next two weeks.

“This news means we can allow ourselves some cautious optimism,” she said.

Retail has been hard hit during the pandemic but there were signs of a recovery with UK retail footfall experiencing a weekly increase of 7% (73% of its level in the equivalent week of 2019).

The latest Office for National statistics Economic activity and social change report, Economic activity and social change in the UK, real-time indicators – Office for National Statistics ( shows that:

  • In the week to Monday 31 May 2021, the seven-day average estimate of UK seated diners was at 173% of its level in the same week of 2019, an increase of 41 percentage points from the previous week; this follows the reopening of indoor dining across all four home nations in May and continues the rebound in seated diner estimates observed since the first reopening of pubs and restaurants in April.
  • Footfall at retail parks remained strongest as a proportion of its level in the same week of 2019 when compared with other retail locations at 92%, whereas the equivalent figures for shopping centres and high streets were 68% and 67%, respectively.

Michaela added: “Clearly economic activity is increasing, and we are on the bounce back.

“The delay to the final easing of restrictions will inevitably have an impact but the recovery is underway and to be welcomed by all.”

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