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Statistical bulletin: Gross Domestic Product Preliminary Estimate, Q3 2013 This product is designated as National Statistics

Released: 25 October 2013 Download PDF

Key points

  • Change in gross domestic product (GDP) is the main indicator of economic growth. GDP increased by 0.8% in Q3 2013 compared with Q2 2013.
  • Output increased in all four main industrial groupings within the economy in Q3 2013 compared with Q2 2013. Output increased by 1.4% in agriculture, 0.5% in production, 2.5% in construction, and 0.7% in services. Output from services is now slightly above its previous peak in Q1 2008, prior to the economic downturn.
  • In Q3 2013 GDP was estimated to be 2.5% below the peak in Q1 2008. From peak to trough in 2009, the economy shrank by 7.2%.
  • GDP was 1.5% higher in Q3 2013 compared with the same quarter a year ago. Remember that the Olympics and Paralympics took place during Q3 2012, raising the level of GDP in this quarter.
  • The preliminary estimate of GDP is produced using the output approach to measuring GDP. At this stage, data content is less than half of the total required for the final output estimate. The estimate is subject to revision as more data become available, but these are typically small between the preliminary and third estimates of GDP. All figures in this release are seasonally adjusted.

Key Information

Table 1: Gross Domestic Product Preliminary Estimate key figures, Q3 2013

United Kingdom, 2011-2013

Percentage change on previous quarter
                        GDP Index (2010=100) GDP Agriculture Production Construction Services
   Weights 1000 7 152 63 778
2011 Q3  101.5 0.6 -0.2 -0.3 -1.1 1.0
  Q4  101.4 -0.1 0.2 -0.6 -0.6 0.0
2012 Q1  101.4 0.0 -1.8 -0.5 -4.1 0.2
  Q2  100.9 -0.5 -2.2 -1.1 -3.8 -0.1
  Q3  101.5 0.6 -0.4 0.1 -1.9 0.9
  Q4  101.2 -0.3 0.4 -2.0 1.8 -0.1
2013 Q1  101.6 0.4 -5.1 0.5 -1.3 0.6
  Q2  102.3 0.7 2.0 0.8 1.9 0.6
  Q3  103.1 0.8 1.4 0.5 2.5 0.7

Table source: Office for National Statistics

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Change in GDP is the main indicator of economic growth. Further information on GDP can be found at paragraph 2 in the background notes. Unless otherwise stated, all data in this bulletin are seasonally adjusted estimates and have had the effect of price changes removed (in other words, the data are deflated). Further information on some of the key concepts (including seasonal adjustment and deflation) underlying the estimates can be found at paragraph 4 in the background notes.

The preliminary estimate of GDP is produced around 25 days after the end of the quarter to provide a timely estimate of GDP. More information about data content for this release can be found in the Assumptions made for September 2013 section and the background notes. The estimate is subject to revisions as more data become available, but between the preliminary and third estimates of GDP, revisions are typically small (around 0.1 to 0.2 percentage points), with the frequency of upward and downward revisions broadly equal.

Figure 1: GDP contributions to the quarter on quarter % change, Q3 2013

Figure 1: GDP contributions to the quarter on quarter % change, Q3 2013
Source: Office for National Statistics

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The contribution an industry grouping makes to GDP quarterly growth is dependent on the change in that industry grouping and its weight within the output approach to measuring GDP. The current 2010 based weights are: services 77.8%; production 15.2%; construction 6.3%; and agriculture 0.7%.

The preliminary estimate of GDP focuses on the growth in output between two consecutive quarters (in this release Q2 2013 and Q3 2013). GDP increased by 0.8% in the third quarter of 2013, with all four main industry groupings (agriculture, production, construction, and services) showing an increase. 

The largest contribution to Q3 2013 GDP growth came from services; these industries increased by 0.7%, contributing 0.57 percentage points to the increase in GDP (as seen in Figure 1). This followed an increase of 0.6% in Q2 2013. In the latest quarter there was widespread growth, with increases in each of the four main services aggregates (distribution, hotels & restaurants; transport, storage & communication; business services & finance; and government & other services). Output from services is now 0.4% above its previous peak in Q1 2008, prior to the economic downturn. 

Construction output increased by 2.5% in Q3 2013 compared with Q2 2013, contributing 0.15 percentage points to the increase in GDP. New work on private housing and private commercial were key contributors to this increase, and there was also growth in private housing repair and maintenance. The published monthly data for July and August was also dominated by growth in private housing and, particularly in July 2013, private commercial work. 

There was also an upward contribution (0.06 percentage points) from production; these industries rose by 0.5%, with manufacturing increasing by 0.9% for the second consecutive quarter. There was also an upward contribution from water & waste management, which rose by 3.8%. The main reason for this rise was an increase in water supply caused by warm and dry weather, particularly in July. Partially offsetting these rises was a decrease of 6.8% in energy supply, with falls in both electricity and gas supply. The fall in gas was partially caused by a decrease in demand for gas in the production of electricity over the quarter.  

Economic Context

Figure 2: GDP and main components, Q3 2013

United Kingdom 2000-2013

Figure 2: GDP and main components, Q3 2013
Source: Office for National Statistics

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GDP and all of its components are referenced to 2010, making the average index in 2010 equal to 100.  It is for this reason that Figure 2 shows all components converging in 2010.

Figure 3: GDP (£millions) and quarter on quarter growth, Q3 2013

United Kingdom 2003-2013

Figure 3: GDP (£millions) and quarter on quarter growth, Q3 2013
Source: Office for National Statistics

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GDP in the UK grew steadily from 2000 until early 2008, when a financial market shock affected UK and global economic growth. Up until that point, services in the UK had continued to grow steadily, while production output had been broadly flat over the same period. Construction activity grew strongly in the early part of the decade and although there was a temporary decline in the mid-2000s, this was reversed by the end of 2007. The deterioration in economic conditions during 2008 had a large effect on the construction and production industries, but the effect on the services industries was less pronounced.

Economic growth resumed towards the end of 2009, but at a slower rate than the period prior to 2008, as demand was subdued by inflation outstripping nominal wage growth, leading to a fall in the real income of households. The services industries grew steadily, if slowly, during this period; activity in these industries is now slightly above the level previously seen in early 2008. By contrast, production and construction activity grew in 2010 but did not sustain this growth, with continued long-term economic uncertainty – exacerbated by the euro area sovereign debt crisis – particularly affecting construction in 2012. Although there has been growth across all industrial groupings in 2013, activity in the production industries remains slightly below the trough recorded in 2009. The increase in GDP since then is overwhelmingly attributable to services (Table 1).

From the peak in Q1 2008 to the trough in Q2 and Q3 2009, GDP decreased by 7.2%. Previous economic downturns in the early 1980s and early 1990s did not have the same level of impact on GDP. In the early 1990s downturn, GDP decreased by 2.9% from the peak in Q2 1990 to the trough in Q3 1991. From Q2 1979 to Q1 1981, a period which included a quarter of positive growth, GDP decreased by 5.9%; over five consecutive quarters of negative growth beginning in Q1 1980, GDP decreased by 4.6%.

Industry analysis

Agriculture

Agriculture output increased by 1.4% in Q3 2013, following an increase of 2.0% in the previous quarter. Between Q3 2012 and Q3 2013, agriculture output decreased by 1.6%.

Index of production

The index of production increased by 0.5% in Q3 2013, following an increase of 0.8% in the previous quarter. Manufacturing contributed the most to the increase, followed by water & waste management. Between Q3 2012 and Q3 2013, production output decreased by 0.3%.

Construction

Construction output increased by 2.5% in Q3 2013, following an increase of 1.9% in the previous quarter. Between Q3 2012 and Q3 2013, construction output increased by 4.9%.

Distribution, hotels & restaurants

The index for distribution, hotels & restaurants increased by 1.3% in Q3 2013, following an increase of 1.8% in the previous quarter. The retail trade made the largest contribution to the increase. Between Q3 2012 and Q3 2013, distribution, hotels & restaurants output increased by 3.8%.

Transport, storage & communication

The index for transport, storage & communication increased by 0.2% in Q3 2013, following an increase of 0.2% in the previous quarter. Motion picture, video & TV programme production made the largest contribution to the increase. Between Q3 2012 and Q3 2013, transport, storage & communication output increased by 0.3%.

Business services & finance

The index for business services & finance increased by 1.0% in Q3 2013, following an increase of 0.7% in the previous quarter. Architectural & engineering activities made the largest positive contribution to the increase. Between Q3 2012 and Q3 2013, business services & finance output increased by 2.1%.

Government & other services

The index for government & other services increased by 0.3% in Q3 2013, following flat output in the previous quarter. Human health activities made the largest positive contribution to the increase. Between Q3 2012 and Q3 2013, government & other services output increased by 0.1%.

Growth and contributions to growth – output components

Table 2: Growth, quarter-on-quarter percentage, for the output components of GDP

United Kingdom, 2012-2013

Percent (%)
  2012 Q3 2012 Q4 2013 Q1 2013 Q2 2013 Q3
Agriculture, forestry & fishing -0.4 0.4 -5.1 2.0 1.4
Total Production 0.1 -2.0 0.5 0.8 0.5
Mining & quarrying (Extraction) 0.3 -9.4 3.9 1.5 0.4
Manufacturing 0.4 -1.6 0.0 0.9 0.9
Electricity, gas, steam & air (Utilities) -3.1 3.3 1.4 -2.1 -6.8
Water supply, sewerage etc. 0.5 0.1 -0.7 2.0 3.8
Construction -1.9 1.8 -1.3 1.9 2.5
Total Services  0.9 -0.1 0.6 0.6 0.7
Distribution, hotels & restaurants 1.7 -0.6 1.3 1.8 1.3
Transport, storage & communication -0.4 0.4 1.7 0.2 0.2
Business services & finance 0.8 0.4 0.1 0.7 1.0
Government & other services 1.3 -0.7 0.5 0.0 0.3

Table source: Office for National Statistics

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Table 3: Contributions to growth, quarter-on-quarter, for the output components of GDP

United Kingdom, 2012-2013

Percent (%)
  2012 Q3 2012 Q4 2013 Q1 2013 Q2 2013 Q3
Agriculture, forestry & fishing 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
Total Production 0.0 -0.3 0.1 0.1 0.1
Mining & quarrying (Extraction) 0.0 -0.2 0.1 0.0 0.0
Manufacturing 0.0 -0.2 0.0 0.1 0.1
Electricity, gas, steam & air (Utilities) 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 -0.1
Water supply, sewerage etc. 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
Construction -0.1 0.1 -0.1 0.1 0.1
Total Services  0.7 -0.1 0.5 0.5 0.6
Distribution, hotels & restaurants 0.2 -0.1 0.2 0.3 0.2
Transport, storage & communication 0.0 0.0 0.2 0.0 0.0
Business services & finance 0.2 0.1 0.0 0.2 0.3
Government & other services 0.3 -0.2 0.1 0.0 0.1

Table source: Office for National Statistics

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Table 4: Growth, year on year percentage, for the output components of GDP

United Kingdom, 2008 -2012

Percent (%)
  2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
Agriculture, forestry & fishing 9.7 -6.9 -0.7 10.6 -3.5
Total Production -2.9 -9.5 2.8 -1.2 -2.5
Mining & quarrying (Extraction) -6.1 -9.7 -2.4 -14.8 -9.8
Manufacturing -2.8 -10.2 4.2 1.8 -1.7
Electricity, gas, steam & air (Utilities) 0.5 -4.8 3.9 -5.9 -0.3
Water supply, sewerage etc. -2.0 -8.3 -1.3 4.1 -0.3
Construction -2.5 -13.3 8.3 2.3 -7.9
Total Services  0.0 -3.9 0.8 1.5 1.2
Distribution, hotels & restaurants -2.8 -5.8 1.0 0.7 0.8
Transport, storage & communication -0.4 -7.2 3.0 1.6 0.1
Business services & finance 0.9 -4.8 0.4 2.5 1.8
Government & other services 0.9 0.4 0.3 0.5 1.1

Table source: Office for National Statistics

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Table 5: Contributions to growth, year on year, for the output components of GDP

United Kingdom, 2008-2012

Percent (%)
  2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
Agriculture, forestry & fishing 0.1 0.0 0.0 0.1 0.0
Total Production -0.5 -1.6 0.4 -0.2 -0.4
Mining & quarrying (Extraction) -0.2 -0.3 0.0 -0.3 -0.2
Manufacturing -0.3 -1.1 0.4 0.2 -0.2
Electricity, gas, steam & air (Utilities) 0.0 -0.1 0.1 -0.1 0.0
Water supply, sewerage etc. 0.0 -0.1 0.0 0.0 0.0
Construction -0.2 -0.9 0.5 0.1 -0.5
Total Services  0.0 -3.0 0.7 1.2 0.9
Distribution, hotels & restaurants -0.4 -0.8 0.1 0.1 0.1
Transport, storage & communication 0.0 -0.8 0.3 0.2 0.0
Business services & finance 0.3 -1.5 0.1 0.8 0.6
Government & other services 0.2 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.3

Table source: Office for National Statistics

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Assumptions made for September 2013 in the Q3 2013 Gross Domestic Product Preliminary Estimate

Background

The methods for producing the preliminary GDP estimate use monthly data for the first two months in the quarter and forecasts for estimating the third month. The forecasts are reinforced by early responses to the ONS Monthly Business Survey (MBS) but the monthly response rate is generally lower at this stage (typically between 30-50% at this point in time).

Each of the first two months includes monthly data from the MBS of 44,000 businesses, covering the production, manufacturing, services, retail, and construction industries.

The forecasts for September used the standard ONS method of fitting an autoregressive integrated moving average (ARIMA) model with adjustments made for Easter, trading days and outliers. The forecasts are calculated for each individual industry level series (for example, food & beverage services).

Purpose of this section

This section provides details of the assumptions made for September 2013 for each of the main components of the output approach to measuring GDP: services; production; and construction.

Table 6: Monthly Index of Services (CVM, seasonally adjusted) month on month growth rates

United Kingdom, 2007-2013

Percent (%)
    2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
January   0.1 -0.4 -1.2 -0.9 0.3 0.2 0.3
February   0.6 0.6 -0.1 1.1 0.6 -0.8 0.7
March   0.5 -0.4 -0.5 0.5 0.8 0.9 0.0
April   1.0 0.1 0.4 -0.5 -1.0 -0.5 0.2
May   0.1 -0.7 -0.9 0.2 1.4 0.7 0.2
June   0.5 -0.2 -0.1 0.3 -0.3 -1.2 0.0
July   1.1 -0.7 0.6 0.2 0.9 1.1 0.3
August   0.3 -0.1 -0.3 -0.1 -0.3 0.7 0.4
September   0.3 -0.8 0.3 0.3 0.3 -0.4 0.3*
October   -0.8 -0.5 0.0 -0.3 -0.7 0.0 ..
November   0.6 -0.8 0.1 0.1 0.9 -0.1 ..
December   0.2 0.1 0.3 -0.7 0.0 -0.1 ..
                 

Table source: Office for National Statistics

Table notes:

  1. *based on forecasts and early responses to the September Monthly Business Survey

  2. No data is represented by ..

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It was estimated that there was a 0.3% rise in the output of the services industries between August and September 2013.

At the more detailed level, it was estimated that distribution, hotels & restaurants rose by 0.4%, transport, storage & communication rose by 0.6% and government & other services rose by 0.4%. Business services & finance was estimated to be flat over the same period.

The services data for July and August 2013 used in the calculation of the Q3 2013 gross domestic product preliminary estimate are consistent with the data contained in the August 2013 Index of Services release published on 25 October 2013.

Table 7: Monthly Index of Production (CVM, seasonally adjusted) month on month growth rates

United Kingdom, 2007 -2013

Percent (%)
    2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
January   0.8 0.0 -2.7 0.0 0.3 -0.7 -0.9
February   -0.3 0.3 -0.7 0.9 -1.9 0.0 0.9
March   0.1 -1.6 -0.9 2.0 0.0 -0.3 0.1
April   -0.7 1.1 1.4 0.1 -1.3 -0.6 -0.1
May   1.9 -1.3 -1.4 0.2 1.0 0.9 0.0
June   -0.9 -0.7 0.7 -0.5 0.4 -2.5 1.4
July   -0.2 -1.1 0.2 -0.2 -0.6 2.9 0.1
August   0.4 0.9 -2.1 0.7 -0.5 -0.7 -1.1
September   -0.7 -0.7 0.8 0.4 0.1 -2.7 0.5*
October   0.8 -2.2 0.6 0.2 -0.6 -0.7 ..
November   0.0 -3.0 0.7 0.2 -0.2 0.7 ..
December   -0.3 -0.8 -0.3 -0.3 0.7 0.7 ..
                 

Table source: Office for National Statistics

Table notes:

  1. *based on forecasts and early responses to the September Monthly Business Survey
  2. No data is represented by ..

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It was estimated that there was an increase of 0.5% in output of the production industries between August and September 2013.

At the more detailed level, it was estimated that there was an increase of 1.2% in manufacturing. Mining & quarrying fell by 1.9%, energy supply fell by 2.2% and water & waste management fell by 0.2%.

Small revisions (following revised seasonal factors allowing for the addition of September data) to the July and August 2013 estimates, published in the last Index of Production (IoP) release on 9 October 2013, have been used in the calculation of the Q3 2013 gross domestic product preliminary estimate. To retain coherence between the published monthly and quarterly indices for quarter three 2013, small adjustments have been made to the monthly growth rates for September 2013 for total production, mining & quarrying, energy supply, and water & waste management. This ensures that if the monthly growth rates for September are applied to the published August 2013 indices for total production and the main components (and then an average taken of the July, August and September 2013 indices), the results are consistent with the published quarterly indices.

Table 8: Output in the construction industry (CVM, seasonally adjusted) month on month growth rates

United Kingdom, 2010 -2013

Percent (%)
    2010 2011 2012 2013
January     1.6 -5.2 2.5
February   4.4 0.0 -2.3 -0.7
March   1.7 2.7 -1.2 -3.9
April   2.9 -1.0 -2.3 5.2
May   -1.5 -0.9 2.8 0.0
June   3.9 2.9 -5.0 -1.1
July   -2.0 -2.7 2.4 2.8
August   2.3 -0.2 -1.4 -0.1
September   0.4 0.9 -2.5 1.5*
October   -2.6 -3.2 6.1 ..
November   -0.2 1.4 -2.0 ..
December   -1.3 3.9 -1.8 ..

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Monthly data for the construction industries are only available from January 2010.

The forecast for construction is calculated slightly differently to production and services due to the shorter time span of monthly turnover data. More weight is placed on early responses to the MBS for September. Responses from businesses were the starting point to inform the forecasts; this was then adjusted (using information collected in previous months) in recognition that these early responses from businesses tend to be lower than later responses. This approach led to an estimated 1.5% rise between August and September 2013.

The construction data for July and August 2013 used in the calculation of the Q3 2013 gross domestic product preliminary estimate are consistent with the data contained in the Construction Output, August 2013 release published on 11 October 2013.

Background notes

  1. Preliminary Estimate of GDP

    The preliminary estimate of GDP is produced using the output approach to measuring GDP and is published less than four weeks after the end of the quarter to which it relates. At this stage the data content of this estimate is around 44% of the total required for the final output based estimate. This includes good information for the first two months of the quarter, with an estimate for the third month which takes account of early returns to the monthly business survey of 44,000 businesses (which typically has a response rate of between 30-50% at this point in time). The estimate is therefore subject to revisions as more data become available, but between the preliminary and third estimates of GDP, revisions are typically small (around 0.1 to 0.2 percentage points), with the frequency of upward and downward revisions broadly equal.

  2. Continuous Improvement of GDP: sources, methods and communication

    An article providing an overview of current and planned continuous improvement work in relation to producing estimates of quarterly and annual GDP can be found in the Guidance and Methodology area

  3. Special Events in 2012

    There were several special events in 2012. This commentary is intended to help users to interpret the statistics in the light of these events. As explained in ONS’s Special Events policy, it is not possible to separate the effects of special events from other changes in the series.

    The Diamond Jubilee celebrations saw changes to the normal pattern of bank holidays in May and June, and an additional day's holiday in June; all of these changes affected estimates for Quarter 2 of 2012, and an article gave more information on how the estimates were compiled over this period. The Olympics took place from 27 July to 12 August 2012 (with a few events starting on 25 July), and the Paralympics from 29 August to 9 September. The effect of the Olympics and Paralympics were reflected in the estimates for the months of Quarter 3 of 2012. More details of how certain series were expected to be affected were given in an Information Note. A detailed article describing possible effects on GDP and comparing with earlier Olympic Games was published by ONS on 25 October. Wider effects, for example the presence of the Olympics influencing the number of non-Olympics tourist visits, may of course have affected any of the summer months.

    The result of these special events in 2012 has been to introduce additional uncertainty in the interpretation of movements between Q2 and Q3 and between Q3 and Q4. Users should therefore consider all the information available when interpreting the statistics.

  4. Understanding the data

    Short guide to GDP
    Gross domestic product (GDP) is an integral part of the UK national accounts and provides a measure of the total economic activity in the UK. GDP is often referred to as one of the main 'summary indicators' of economic activity and references to 'growth in the economy' invariably refer to the growth in GDP during the latest quarter.

    In the UK three different but equivalent approaches are used in the estimation of GDP:

    • GDP from the output or production approach - GDP(O) measures the sum of the value added created through the production of goods and services within the economy (our production or output as an economy). This approach provides the first estimate of GDP and can be used to show how much different industries (for example, agriculture) contribute within the economy.

    • GDP from the income approach - GDP(I) measures the total income generated by the production of goods and services within the economy. The figures breakdown this income into, for example, income earned by companies (corporations), employees and the self employed.

    • GDP from the expenditure approach - GDP(E) measures the total expenditures on all finished goods and services produced within the economy.

  5. Short guide to National Accounts

    The national accounts provide an integrated description of all economic activity within the economic territory of the UK, including activity involving both domestic units (i.e. individuals and institutions resident in the UK) and external units (those resident in other countries). In addition to being comprehensive, the accounts are fully integrated and internally consistent. More information can be found in UK national accounts: a short guide.

  6. Interpreting the data

    Figures for the most recent quarter are provisional and subject to revision in light of (a) late responses to surveys and administrative sources, (b) forecasts being replaced by actual data and (c) revisions to seasonal adjustment factors which are re-estimated every quarter and reviewed annually.

  7. Definitions and explanations

    Definitions found within the main statistical bulletin are listed here:

    Index number

    An index number is a number which indicates the change in magnitude relative to the magnitude at a specified point, the latter usually taken as 100. For example, the level of GDP for Q3 2013 is given in Table 1 as 103.1. This means that GDP was 3.1% higher than in the reference period, which is currently 2010.

    Seasonal adjustment  

    The index numbers in this statistical bulletin are all seasonally adjusted. This aids interpretation by removing annually recurring fluctuations, for example, due to holidays or other regular seasonal patterns. Unadjusted data are also available.

    Seasonal adjustment removes regular variation from a time series. Regular variation includes effects due to month lengths, different activity near particular events such as shopping activity before Christmas, and regular holidays such as the May bank holiday.

    Some features of the calendar are not regular each year, but are predictable if we have enough data - for example the number of certain days of the week in a month may have an effect, or the impact of the timing of Easter. As Easter changes between March and April we can estimate its effect on time series and allocate it between March and April depending on where Easter falls. Estimates of the effect of the day of the week and Easter are used respectively to make trading day and Easter adjustments prior to seasonal adjustment.

    Deflation  

    It is standard practice to present many economic statistics in terms of ‘constant prices’. This means that changes or growth are not affected by changes in price. The process of removing price changes is known as deflation and the resulting series is often described as volume (as opposed to value). The index numbers in this bulletin are volumes.

    Chained volume 

    The indices in this bulletin are ‘chained volume’. This means that successive volume estimates are linked (or chained) together. The process of annual chain-linking was introduced in 2003. More information on chain-linking can be found in the Tuke and Reed (2001) (92.8 Kb Pdf) article.

    Gross Value Added Industry Weights Dataset

    An update to the annual weights used within the output approach of GDP has been included in our dataset. These weights have been used since the Quarterly National Accounts, published on 27 June 2013 and are consistent with the data used in the Blue Book 2013 dataset, published on 31 July 2013. All weights are given in parts per thousand.

    Sample sizes and data content 

    This is the first estimate of GDP, based on preliminary information for the quarter. Although based on a significant number of returns from businesses, there is still a lot of information to come in, particularly for September.

    The amount of data available at this stage is about 44% of the total data that will be available in one years’ time. The estimates in this release are, however, based on a large amount of information returned by businesses across the whole of the economy. Information on activity (more specifically, turnover or sales) is available from about 44,000 businesses for each of the first two months of the quarter and from about 20,000 businesses for the third month. In addition, the ONS collects price information on nearly 200,000 individual products each month from around 30,000 businesses. This information is used to remove the effect of price changes from the estimates.

  8. Quality

    Basic Quality Information

    All estimates, by definition, are subject to statistical ‘error’ but in this context the word refers to the uncertainty inherent in any process or calculation that uses sampling, estimation or modelling. Most revisions reflect either the adoption of new statistical techniques, or the incorporation of new information, which allows the statistical error of previous statements to be reduced. Only rarely are there avoidable ‘errors’ such as human or system failures, and such mistakes are made quite clear when they do occur.

    Expectations of accuracy and reliability in early estimates are often too high. Revisions are an inevitable consequence of the trade off between timeliness and accuracy. Early estimates are based on incomplete data.

    Quality and methodology report

    A quality and methodology report for the Gross Domestic Product Preliminary Estimate release is provided on the National Statistics website.
    This report describes, in detail the intended uses of the statistics presented in this publication, their general quality and the methods used to produce them.

  9. National Accounts revisions policy

    In accordance with the National Accounts revision policy, there are no periods open for revision in this release.

    This release includes information available up to 18 October 2013.

    The National Accounts revision policy (27.8 Kb Pdf) is available.

  10. Revisions Triangles

    Spreadsheets giving revisions triangles (real time databases) of estimates from 1992 to date are available to download. They can be found under the section Revisions triangles for gross value added at basic prices, chained volume measure.

    The revisions triangles for the components of GDP have been temporarily removed following the move to the new Standard Industrial Classification (SIC2007) in October 2011. They will be reinstated shortly. The revisions triangles for total GDP are still available and the services industry analysis is separately available on a monthly basis via the Index of Services dataset.

    Revisions to data provide one indication of the reliability of key indicators. Tables 9 and 10 show summary information on the size and direction of the revisions which have been made to data covering a five year period. A statistical test has been applied to the average revision to find out if it is statistically significantly different from zero. The result of the test is that the average revision is not statistically different from zero.

    Table 9: Revisions to early estimates of GVA growth

    GVA Growth in the latest period % Revisions between early estimates of GVA growth (quarterly, CVM)
    Revisions to GVA growth Average over the last five years  Average over the last five years without regard to sign (average absolute revision)
    Between M1 and M2 0.8 0.04 0.06
    Between M2 and M3 0.8 -0.06 0.10

    Table source: Office for National Statistics

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    Table 9 shows the revisions between the early estimates of gross value added (GVA). The analysis of revisions between month 1 and month 2 uses month 2 estimates published from November 2008 (2008 Q3) to August 2013 (2013 Q2). The analysis of revisions between month 2 and month 3 uses month 3 estimates published from December 2008 (2008 Q3) to September 2013 (2013 Q2).

    Table 10: Revisions to GVA growth between the estimate published three months after the end of the quarter and the equivalent estimate three years later

    GVA growth in the latest period % Revisions between early estimates of GVA growth (quarterly, CVM)
    Revisions to GVA growth Average over the last five years  Average over the last five years without regard to sign (average absolute revision)
    GVA growth (quarterly CVM) 0.8 -0.04 0.37

    Table source: Office for National Statistics

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    Table 10 shows the revisions to GVA growth between the estimate published three months after the end of the quarter and the equivalent estimate three years later. The analysis uses month 3 estimates first published from December 2005 (2005 Q3) to September 2010 (2010 Q2).

    An article titled 'Understanding the quality of early estimates of Gross Domestic Product' (122.9 Kb Pdf) , which was first published in December 2009, is available on the ONS website.

    This article presents an analysis of revisions to the early estimates of GDP based on a long period database of real time GDP back to 1955. This database is regularly updated and is available on the ONS website.

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