This page provides commentary and charts on the latest changes in the UK economy, using novel and rapid data sources as well as official statistics.

For an overview of our main economic indicators, visit our dashboard.

This page was last updated at 09:30 on 8 June 2023.

Small signs of improvement for businesses

8 June 2023

While business conditions remain challenging, there have been some small signs of improvement according to our latest Business Insights and Conditions Survey.

When asked in May 2023, 68% of businesses reported they had some form of concern for June 2023. This was down from 71% for May 2023, and the lowest percentage reported this year.

There were fewer businesses with primary concerns about prices and inflation. Those reporting energy prices as their main concern fell from 18% for May 2023 to 15% for June 2023, and those whose main concern was inflation of goods and services prices fell from 16% to 15%.

Nearly two-thirds (65%) of trading businesses were able to get the materials, goods or services they need from within the UK in April 2023, which was stable from the previous month.

A similar proportion (63%) were not experiencing worker shortages in late May 2023, stable with late April 2023.

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UK payment card spending rises alongside retail footfall

8 June 2023

Credit and debit card spending rose in three out of four categories during May 2023, according to the Office for National Statistics’ (ONS) monthly Clearing House Automated Payment System-based (CHAPS) indicator. Monthly “delayable” spending increased the most, by 6 percentage points, while “staple” spending decreased by 1 percentage point when compared with April 2023.

However, when compared with the previous year, “staple” spending in May 2023 was 12 percentage points higher than May 2022, while “delayable” and “social” spending were 3 and 2 percentage points lower, respectively.

Revolut debit card data showed an increase in consumer spending, with overall spending up by 6 percentage points in the week to 4 June 2023. This represented an increase of 15 percentage points on the equivalent week in 2022. For the second week in a row, spending increased across all categories last week, with “entertainment” and “retail” categories seeing the largest rises of 13 and 7 percentage points, respectively.

Spending also rose across two-thirds of all categories, compared with the equivalent period in 2022. “Retail” spending saw the largest increase of 32 percentage points, however spending on “pubs, restaurants, and fast food” dropped by 8 percentage points.

Retail footfall increased in two-thirds of the 12 English regions and UK countries in the week to 4 June 2023, according to the latest data from Springboard. Northern Ireland and the Southwest were joint highest, at 107% of the level of the previous week, whereas London and the Northeast both decreased and were at 98% of the level of the previous week.

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Households are still the largest contributor to UK emissions

5 June 2023

UK greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions on a residence basis – a different measure from the territorial measure often used relating to UK residents and UK-registered businesses, regardless of whether they are in the UK or overseas – increased by 3% between 2020 and 2021, to just over 502 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (Mt Co2e).

Households, through consumer expenditure, are the largest single contributor to UK emissions. In 2021, emissions related to consumer expenditure – primarily from heating homes and travelling – reached 26% of the total.

The second-highest emitter was the energy sector, at 17% of the total.

The transport sector’s emissions reduced by 9% in 2021 following a 28% fall in 2020; the largest decrease (34%) of all sectors since 2019.

A reduction in overall UK GHG emission intensity would in theory indicate that the UK is moving towards a lower carbon economy. In 2021, the UK emitted 0.19 thousand tonnes of CO2e per £ million of gross value added (GVA) on a residence basis: a drop of 67% since 1990.

Agriculture, forestry and fishing was the most emission-intensive industry in 2021 after surpassing electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply in 2016. This is likely a combination of the agriculture industry being the heaviest emitter of methane, a potent GHG, and the reduction in emission intensity from the electricity industry.

Most GHG emissions are related to energy use. The UK used a total of almost 176 million tonnes of oil equivalent (Mtoe) of energy in 2021, with 80% coming from fossil fuels.

Energy from renewable sources accounted for 13% of all energy use in the UK in 2021, compared with 0.9% in 1990.

The environmental goods and services sector (EGSS) statistics measure 17 activities across the economy that produce goods and services for environmental protection and resource management purposes.

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Around 3 in 10 workers think their job is at least partly “green”

2 June 2023

Around 3 in 10 working adults in Britain would describe any part of their job as “green”.

Some 29% of working adults said that their job involved helping to protect or contribute towards the environment, such as helping to combat climate change or improve the natural environment.

That is according to our latest Opinions and Lifestyle Survey conducted between 17 and 29 May 2023.

Around 1 in 25 working adults (4%) reported all or most of their job related to “green” activities.

Around 1 in 7 (15%) said that they worked for an organisation that did specific green activities but that their own work was not directly related to this.

The survey also asked people about their cost of living, with around two-thirds (67%) of adults saying it had increased when compared with a month ago.

Of those who said that their cost of living had risen, 97% said increases in the price of food shopping was a reason for the rise.

This was followed by 69% who cited rising gas or electricity bills, and 40% who said an increase in the price of fuel was a factor.

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Pupils in more deprived areas of England felt more behind after lockdowns

2 June 2023

Students in the most deprived areas were more likely to report they had fallen behind their classmates because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

A study of student experiences during national lockdown periods examined the availability of online learning, study support and students’ plans for their future.

It found that pupils in the most deprived areas were less likely than those in the least deprived areas to be provided with online learning for lessons during the third lockdown.

Activities to help students catch up on missed or disrupted learning during the pandemic were more commonly reported in the most deprived areas, where there was also a higher take up among students of this support.

Two-fifths of students (42%) in the most deprived areas said they had fallen behind their classmates during the coronavirus pandemic

Proportions of students in England who agreed with the following statements around catch-up concerns, September 2021 to March 2022

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Overall, nearly four in five pupils (79%) said that their progress during Year 11 had suffered as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

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Household spending rose 6% in year to March 2022, adjusted for inflation

31 May 2023

UK households spent £528.80 per week on average in the financial year ending (FYE) March 2022.

This is £47.30 (10%) higher than in FYE 2021, but £59.10 (10%) lower than in FYE 2020, before the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Inflation (changes in the cost of goods and services), accounted for some of this change: average weekly spending was £28.80 (6%) higher in FYE 2022 after adjusting for inflation, and was £78.80 (13%) below FYE 2020.

A number of factors could have driven higher spending. Some restrictions put in place to curb the spread of COVID-19 were eased, meaning there was more opportunity to socialise indoors and attend large events. Higher costs also affected households, with domestic energy prices rising in the last six months of FYE 2022.

The average (mean) household disposable income in FYE 2022 (the money available after direct taxes have been accounted for) remained similar to the previous year, after adjusting for inflation.

The biggest contributions to increases in spending were in transport, recreation and culture, and restaurants and hotels. Meanwhile, average spending on food and non-alcoholic drinks fell.

The largest proportion of household expenditure went on housing, fuel and power (17%), followed by transport (14%).

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Digital jobs younger in age profile than print-related roles

31 May 2023

Typists and bookbinders might be giving way to data entry and analysis, Census 2021 data show.

Digital information jobs, such as “data analyst” and “actuaries, economists and statisticians” had younger age profiles compared with print-related roles. “Business and related research professionals”, another category that was relatively young, includes social media analysts and games researchers.

However, print information jobs such as “librarians” were generally older in age profile

Digital data jobs are more popular than print-related jobs among younger people

Proportion of working adults employed in selected print and digital information occupations, England and Wales, Census 2021

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Analysis included the 27.8 million people aged 16 years and over who said they were in employment at the time of the census, in March 2021. People on furlough were asked to record their employment as ongoing, but some people may have said they were out of work instead.

For more than 400 occupations, we looked at differences in age profile, how work varies for men and women, and types of employment.

We found that younger women were more likely than older women to work in engineering, that two-fifths of farmers were aged 60 years or older, and that the most common job was “sales and retail assistant”.

Use our interactive tool, "How many people do my job?" to find out more about the people in a particular role.

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Travel to and from the UK closer to 2019 levels

26 May 2023

Visits to and from the UK last year were significantly up on 2021 but still well below the levels recorded before the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Spending on visits to and from the UK was also higher but remained short of the estimated totals for 2019.

The number of visits made by overseas residents to the UK in 2022 was 31.2 million. This was much higher than the 6.4 million recorded in 2021, when pandemic-related restrictions affected travel.

Despite the rise, the number was still below 40.9 million in 2019, according to estimates from our International Passenger Survey.

Overseas residents spent £26.5 billion on their visits to the UK in 2022, which was up from just £5.6 billion in 2021, but still 7% below the £28.4 billion spent in 2019.

UK residents' visits abroad also increased significantly between 2021 and 2022, from 19.1 million to 71.0 million, although that was still 24% less than the 93.1 million visits in 2019.

Spending by UK residents followed a similar pattern, rising by £43.0 billion from £15.5 billion in 2021 to £58.5 billion in 2022, but remaining below 2019 spending levels (£62.3 billion).

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Retail sales volumes rebound after March bad weather

26 May 2023

Retail sales volumes (the amount of stuff bought) in Great Britain have bounced back after poor weather resulted in a decline in March 2023.

Our latest data show that sales volumes increased by 0.5% in April 2023, compared with a fall of 1.2% (revised from 0.9%) in March.

Sales volumes have also risen an estimated 0.8% in the three months to April 2023 – the highest three-monthly increase since August 2021 (1.3%).

Non-food stores sales volumes increased by an estimated 1.0% in April 2023, after poor weather contributed to a fall of 1.8% in March. Strong sales in shops selling watches and jewellery, and sports equipment helped contribute to the rise.

Meanwhile, food stores sales volumes rose by an estimated 0.7% in April 2023, following a fall of 0.8% the previous month. Sales volumes were 2.7% below their pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) February 2020 levels.

When compared with their pre-coronavirus February 2020 level, total retail sales were 16.5% higher in value terms but volume was 0.8% lower.

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Gas and Electricity prices at lowest level of 2023 to date

25 May 2023

The System Average Price (SAP) of gas and the System Price (SP) of electricity are at their lowest level of 2023 to date.

In the week to 21 May 2023, the SAP and SP fell by 16% and 25% respectively in comparison with the previous week. Both prices have been falling since mid-December 2022, according to data from the National Gas Transmission and Elexon.

In the week to 21 May 2023, the SP of electricity decreased by 25% compared with the previous week and was 40% below the level in the equivalent week of 2022. This price is 82% lower than the peak level seen in mid-December 2022, the lowest it has been this year.

The SAP of gas fell by 16% in the week to 21 May 2023 when compared with the previous week, continuing the downward trend observed since mid-December 2022. This was the largest week on week decrease since 1 January 2023 (20%). 

This price is also 20% below the level seen in the equivalent week of 2022 and is 85% below the weekly peak level seen in late August 2022.

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  • GDP monthly estimate, UK

    Gross domestic product (GDP) measures the value of goods and services produced in the UK. It estimates the size of and growth in the economy.

  • Business insights and impact on the UK economy

    The impact of challenges facing the economy and other events on UK businesses. Based on responses from the voluntary fortnightly business survey (BICS) to deliver real-time information to help assess issues affecting UK businesses and economy, including financial performance, workforce, trade, and business resilience.

  • Labour market overview, UK

    Estimates of employment, unemployment, economic inactivity and other employment-related statistics for the UK.

  • Consumer price inflation, UK

    Price indices, percentage changes, and weights for the different measures of consumer price inflation.

  • Retail sales, Great Britain

    A first estimate of retail sales in volume and value terms, seasonally and non-seasonally adjusted.

  • Public sector finances, UK

    How the relationship between UK public sector monthly income and expenditure leads to changes in deficit and debt.

  • UK trade

    Total value of UK exports and imports of goods and services in current prices, chained volume measures and implied deflators.

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