In the week to 3 March 2022, the aggregate CHAPS-based indicator of credit and debit card purchases increased by 10 percentage points from the previous week, to 102% of its February 2020 average; there were increases in all spending categories following last week's falls, the largest of which was in "work-related" spending, which rose by 24 percentage points (Bank of England CHAPS data). Section 3.
The System Average Price (SAP) of gas increased by 66% in the week to 6 March 2022 to its highest recorded level at 15.5 pence per kilowatt hour since the data time series began (1 January 2018); this is more than double the previous largest weekly increase of 25%, on 19 December 2021 (data from National Grid). Section 4.
Instances of shelf availability marked as either "none" or "low" for "ibuprofen" increased by 9 percentage points in the four months between 29 October 2021 and 7 March 2022 (Kantar Public). Section 5.
Businesses that had not permanently stopped trading reported hourly wages were higher than normal for both existing (12%) and new employees (10%) in February 2022; among businesses in the accommodation and food service activities industry 37% reported hourly wages were higher for existing employees and 33% for new employees, up by 22 and 9 percentage points respectively from January 2022 (final results from Wave 51 of the Business Insights and Conditions Survey (BICS)).
Three in five (60%) businesses that had not permanently stopped trading reported they have concerns for their business in the next month; the top two concerns being inflation of goods and services prices (21%) and energy prices (15%) (final results from Wave 51 of the Business Insights and Conditions Survey (BICS)).
In the week to 5 March 2022, overall weekly retail footfall in the UK decreased by 4% from the previous week and was 84% of the level seen in the equivalent week of 2019 (Springboard). Section 6.
The seven-day average number of UK daily flights increased by 6% in the week to 6 March 2022, the fifth consecutive week-on-week rise, with flight levels now at 69% of the level seen in the equivalent week of 2020 (EUROCONTROL). Section 7.
There was an average of 298 daily ship visits in the week to 6 March 2022, this was a 10% increase from the previous week; the average number of daily cargo and tanker ship visits increased by 11% over the same period, to 98 (exactEarth). Section 8.
The volume of all motor vehicle traffic on Monday 7 March 2022 was broadly unchanged from the previous week at 96% of the level seen on the Monday of the first week in February 2020 (Department for Transport). Section 9.
In the week ending 6 March 2022, the seasonally adjusted average count of traffic camera activity in London for "trucks" and "vans" increased for both by 5% from the previous week (Transport for London). See the accompanying dataset.
In the week to 3 March 2022, transactions at Pret A Manger stores increased in all regional store locations, apart from London city stores where they fell by 2 percentage points (Pret A Manger). Section 10.
The seven-day average estimate of UK seated diners decreased by 12 percentage points in the week to 7 March 2022, to 119% of the level in the equivalent week of 2019; this follows a 12-percentage point increase in the previous week (OpenTable).
The seasonally adjusted number of new Value Added Tax (VAT) reporters in February 2022 was 23,730, a 13% increase from January 2022 (21,000), this is the largest monthly increase since March 2021 (HM Revenue and Customs' Value Added Tax (VAT) returns). Section 11.
There were 15,086 company incorporations in the week to 4 March 2022, down 7% from the previous week (16,253) (Companies House). See the accompanying dataset.
Online job advert estimates provided by Adzuna are not available for this week's bulletin. Data will be published as normal for this indicator in next week's publication.
- Users should note that the break in the available shipping data (from 14 to 19 June 2021) is when the data collection system changed.
Daily CHAPS-based indicator
These data series are experimental faster indicators for estimating UK spending on credit and debit cards. They track the daily CHAPS payments made by credit and debit card payment processors to around 100 major UK retail corporates. These payments are the proceeds of recent credit and debit card transactions made by customers at their stores, both via physical and via online platforms. More information on the indicator is provided in the accompanying methodology article.
Companies are allocated to one of four categories based on their primary business:
"staples" refers to companies that sell essential goods that households need to purchase, such as food and utilities
"work-related" refers to companies providing public transport or selling petrol
"delayable" refers to companies selling goods whose purchase could be delayed, such as clothing or furnishings
"social" refers to spending on travel and eating out
Figure 1 shows changes in the value of CHAPS payments received by large UK corporates from their credit and debit card processors, "merchant acquirers".
In the week to 3 March 2022, the CHAPS-based indicator of credit and debit card purchases increased by 10 percentage points from the previous week, to 102% of its February 2020 average level.
The spending categories recorded the following changes in the latest week:
- "work-related" increased by 24 percentage points; this sector includes road fuel spending
- "staple" increased by 14 percentage points
- "delayable" increased by 6 percentage points
- "social" increased by 5 percentage points
We would expect an increase in credit and debit card spending at the turn of the month. There is also a recovery from last week’s falls in “delayable” and “social” spending, broadly aligned with recent weather patterns.
The “work-related” spending increase of 24 percentage points in the latest week was the largest weekly increase since late September 2021, whose rise was also in part driven by road fuel spending.
"Work-related", "staple" and "social" spending were all above their February 2020 average levels at 135%, 117% and 103%, respectively. "Delayable" spending meanwhile remained below its February 2020 average levels at 83%.
Monthly CHAPS-based indicator
In February 2022, the monthly CHAPS-based indicator of aggregate credit and debit card spending was at 96% of its February 2020 average level. This is 9 percentage points higher than in January 2022, but 20 percentage points lower than in December 2021. This pattern is consistent with the past several years.
The monthly data time series is available in the accompanying dataset and includes methodological notes that users should bear in mind. The monthly CHAPS index is calculated by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), rather than being an additional series that is produced and validated by the Bank of England.Back to table of contents
This is the average price of all gas traded through the balancing market. Market participants post bids or offers for volumes of gas as day-ahead and within-day trades. The SAP aggregates the trades conducted on the On-the-Day Commodity Market (OCM). This is the market that the National Grid use in their role as residual balancer. Other markets exist for wholesale gas trading in Great Britain.
These data can be used to understand the general trend of gas prices within the UK, however, should be treated with caution as these can be subject to extreme within-day trading prices and may skew actual traded prices. It must also be noted that while these prices reflect spot prices on the day, traders can opt for futures contracts where the buyer and the seller agree the market-determined price for gas for a future date. The daily SAP is used to determine the futures price and is therefore a useful indicator of supply constraints and demand pressures.
These data and the accompanying dataset will be updated weekly in this bulletin.
On 6 March 2022, the SAP price increased by 66% to the highest recorded level since the data time series began (1 January 2018), at 15.5 pence per kilowatt hour. This increase was more than double the previous largest weekly increase of 25%, on 19 December 2021.
The SAP was 152% higher than two weeks ago with the seven-day average SAP having increased by 95% over the same period. In the latest week, the seven-day average SAP was 74% higher than 1 January 2022.
The full data time series of actual day SAP and the preceding seven-day average, including data from 2018 to the present, can be found in the accompanying dataset.Back to table of contents
Shelf availability research for shops across the UK has been undertaken by Kantar Public. Collectors gathered information on a range of items from up to three different stores across multiple locations. They recorded availability across four categories: "none", "low", "medium" or "high".
It is important to note these categories are subjective as they are recorded by individual collectors. The most recent collection period was between 4 and 7 March 2022.
The data collection for this indicator has now paused and is under review. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) retains the option to restart these data if the need arises.
In the most recent period (4 to 7 March 2022), the overall proportion of observations for all categories recorded as "high" was 53%; this was broadly unchanged from the previous four-day period (18 to 21 February 2022). Observations for all items recorded as "none" or "low" was at 8%, unchanged from the previous period.
Across the four availability categories, the largest proportion of observations recorded as "high", was "beer" at 73%, followed by "potatoes" and "fresh chicken" at 66% and 65%, respectively. The items with the highest proportion of availability recorded as either "none" or "low" were "ibuprofen" and "paracetamol" at 20% and 19%, respectively.
In the four months from 29 October 2021 to 7 March 2022, the shelf availability of "ibuprofen" marked as either "none" or "low" increased by 9 percentage points, to 20%. The other notable reduction in shelf availability over the same period was for "paracetamol", with instances of "none" or "low" availability increasing by 4 percentage points to 19%. In early January, 29% of "paracetamol" availability was marked as "none" or "low", a new peak. This coincided with the highest number of positive coronavirus (COVID-19) tests in the UK.
Instances of "none" or "low" availability for "toilet rolls" was also highest at the beginning of January, however, from 29 October 2021 to 7 March 2022, levels were broadly similar. The shelf availability of "beer" marked as either "none" or "low" has remained broadly similar at very low levels throughout this period.
From 12 November 2021 to 7 March 2022, the shelf availability of "crisps (multipack)" marked as either "none" or "low", decreased by 15 percentage points, the largest fall of all categories. During this period, some companies in this industry were affected by production problems.
Data for all categories are available in the accompanying dataset.Back to table of contents
National retail footfall
National retail footfall figures are supplied by Springboard, a provider of data on customer activity. They measure the following for overall UK retail footfall, as well as by high street, retail park and shopping centre categories:
daily retail footfall as a percentage of its level on the same day of the equivalent week of 2019; for example, Saturday 5 March 2022 is compared with Saturday 2 March 2019
total weekly retail footfall as a percentage of its level in the equivalent week of 2019
the percentage change in weekly footfall compared with the previous week; for example, Week 9 of 2022 is compared with Week 8 of 2022
Springboard's weekly data are defined over a seven-day period running from Sunday to Saturday. Week 9 of 2022 therefore refers to the period Sunday 27 February to Saturday 5 March 2022.
Because of data offsets between 2021 and previous years, footfall data from Springboard for the following days have been omitted: 22 to 23 December 2021, 25 to 26 December 2021, 29 December 2021 and 1 January 2022.
Users should note that all quoted figures have been rounded to the nearest integer.
According to Springboard, in the UK in the week to 5 March 2022, the volume of overall weekly retail footfall:
in high streets decreased by 4% from the previous week and was 81% of the level seen in the equivalent week of 2019
in retail parks decreased by 1% from the previous week and was 95% of the level seen in the equivalent week of 2019
in shopping centres decreased by 6% from the previous week and was 79% of the level seen in the equivalent week of 2019
In the week to 5 March 2022, there were decreases in retail footfall in 7 of the 10 English regions and UK countries. The largest weekly falls in retail footfall were in Wales and the South West, both of which fell by 8% compared with the previous week. These notable week-on-week decreases were mostly driven by falling shopping centre footfall for Wales, and by falling high street and shopping centre footfall in the South West.Back to table of contents
These data are daily flight figures from the European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation (EUROCONTROL). Daily flight numbers for the UK alongside other countries are available in EUROCONTROL's dashboard. EUROCONTROL is a pan-European, civil-military organisation dedicated to supporting European aviation. Its Aviation Intelligence and Performance Review Unit provides independent collection and validation of air navigation services performance-related data and intelligence gathering.
The flights data include international arrivals and departures to and from the UK (including Crown dependencies) and domestic UK flights but exclude overflights (flights that pass over UK territory). They capture all flight movements that operate under Instrument Flight Rules (IFR), where the pilot uses instruments in the flight deck to control, guide and adjust the plane. This includes commercial flights carrying passengers and cargo as well as non-commercial flights such as private and military flights.
Data from EUROCONTROL do not include information on the volume of passengers or cargo carried on UK flights. Especially in the context of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, flights might not be operating at full capacity and therefore trends in passengers and cargo will differ from trends in flights presented here.
The full data time series available for UK flights can be found in the accompanying dataset, which contains daily flight numbers and the rolling seven-day averages.Back to table of contents
A changeover in the systems used to collect these data has introduced a level shift in the data time series from 14 June 2021 onwards. Users should not make comparisons between data before and after this date. The data produced before the change, from 1 April 2019 to 13 June 2021, can still be compared within that period.
A full methodological review of our current method of data collection is under way and data may be subject to revision once this is complete. We will continue to update the accompanying dataset using the current method until the review is complete, which is likely to conclude in spring 2022.
Back to table of contents
The volume of all motor vehicle traffic on Monday 7 March 2022 was broadly unchanged from the previous week (28 February 2022) at 96% of the level seen on the Monday of the first week in February 2020, according to the Department for Transport (DfT) non-seasonally adjusted road traffic data.
Traffic volumes for all types of motor vehicle were broadly unchanged from the previous week. Light commercial vehicles and heavy goods vehicles were 112% and 107% of the level seen on the Monday of the first week in February 2020, respectively, while cars were at 91% of the same date.
Figure 10: The volume of all motor vehicle traffic on Monday 7 March was broadly unchanged from the previous week at 96% of the level seen on the Monday of the first week in February 2020
Daily road traffic index: 100 = same traffic as the equivalent day of the week in the first week of February 2020, 1 March 2020 to 7 March 2022, non-seasonally adjusted, Great Britain
- The blue shaded areas refer to periods when restrictions across the UK were in effect.
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The daily DfT estimates are indexed to the first week of February 2020 and the comparison is with the same day of the week. The data provided are useful as an indication of traffic change rather than actual traffic volumes. More information on the methods, quality and economic analysis for these indicators can be found in the DfT methodology article.Back to table of contents
Pret A Manger is a sandwich and coffee shop franchise chain, operating around 400 stores across the UK. Its transactional data are presented as an index and show total weekly till transactions at Pret A Manger shops as a proportion of the average weekly level in the first four weeks of 2020 (between Friday 3 January and Thursday 30 January 2020). Because of this comparison across the data time series, users should expect an element of seasonality in the data.
More information on the areas featured is available in the Economic activity and social change in the UK, real-time indicators methodology. These data are also made available every Tuesday via Bloomberg.
Back to table of contents
The new reporters index measures the number of firms sending Value Added Tax (VAT) returns for the first time, which is related to the number of firm creations.
The seasonally adjusted number of new VAT reporters in the UK was 23,730 in February 2022, which was 13% higher than in January 2022. This is 14% higher than the 2015 to 2019 longer-term average (20,906). This was the largest monthly increase since March 2021 when the seasonally adjusted number of new VAT reporters grew by 40%.
The number of new VAT reporters in the construction and services industries grew by 17% and 6%, respectively, in February 2022 compared with the previous month. The number of new VAT reporters in the construction and services industries were 43% and 24% higher than in February 2021, respectively.
In the production industry, the number of new reporters in February 2022 increased by 7% compared with the previous month but was 3% lower than in February 2021.
The figures explained in this section refer to seasonally adjusted data. Non-seasonally adjusted data are available in the accompanying dataset.
Business turnover estimates
Turnover diffusion indices are an aggregate measure used to track whether most firms are reporting an increase or decrease in turnover in their VAT returns. They are calculated as the percentage of firms with increasing turnover minus the percentage with decreasing turnover.
The heatmap in Figure 14 is a visual way of showing the VAT diffusion indices based on the standard deviation from their historical 2008 to 2019 average. Larger deviations are more darkly coloured, with red representing a negative change, while teal represents a positive change when compared with the previous period.
Figure 14: A net 5% of all industry firms reported increased turnover in January 2022 compared with December 2021
UK business turnover estimates, diffusion index standard deviation from the mean, up to January 2022, and new reporters, UK, up to February 2022
Agri - Agriculture, forestry and fishing, All - All industries, SA - Seasonally adjusted.
More information is available in the methodology article.
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The month-on-month, all-industry turnover estimate for January 2022 shows that a net 5% of firms reported increasing turnover. January 2022 had the largest net positive reported turnover since February 2021 when a net 7% increase was reported.
In the production industry, a net 8% of firms reported increasing turnover in January 2022. This was the largest net positive reported turnover since February 2021 when a net 16% increase was reported.
In the services industry, a net 6% of firms reported increasing turnover in January 2022 compared with the previous month. The equivalent figure for both the construction and agriculture industries was a net increase of 1%.
The figures explained in this section refer to seasonally adjusted data. Non-seasonally adjusted data are available in the accompanying dataset.Back to table of contents
Advance potential redundancies
Dataset | Released 10 March 2022
Weekly dataset showing the number of potential redundancies and employers proposing redundancies, submitted to Insolvency Service via HR1 forms.
Traffic camera activity
Dataset | Released 10 March 2022
Experimental daily traffic camera counts data for busyness indices covering the UK.
UK spending on credit and debit cards
Dataset | Released 10 March 2022
Experimental indicator for monitoring UK retail purchases derived from the Bank of England's CHAPS data.
System Average Price (SAP) of gas
Dataset | Released 10 March 2022
Daily and rolling average System Average Price (SAP) of gas traded in the UK.
Value Added Tax (VAT)
Dataset | Released 10 March 2022
Value Added Tax (VAT) turnover and expenditure diffusion indexes and new VAT reporters using data from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) VAT returns.
Shelf availability of items from UK shops
Dataset | Released 10 March 2022
Data provided by Kantar Public, recording item availability of 23 popular products across the UK and English regions.
Users should note that this section lists a selection of the data available with this publication. For the full list of available datasets please see the accompanying dataset page.Back to table of contents
A faster indicator provides insights into economic activity using close-to-real-time big data, administrative data sources, rapid response surveys or Experimental Statistics, which represent useful economic and social concepts.
Incorporations are when a company is added to the Companies House register of limited companies. This can also include where an existing business applies to become a limited company, where it was not one before.
Voluntary dissolution applications
A voluntary dissolution application is when a company applies to begin dissolution proceedings. As such, they effectively choose to be removed from the Companies House register. For a company to be eligible to voluntarily dissolve, it should not have completed any trading activity for a period of three months.
When a company fails to file the required financial accounts and/or confirmation statements, if no contact is received by Companies House following a series of letters to the company and its officers, a first gazette notice is published in the Gazette, a notice of the Registrar's intention to dissolve the company.
The diffusion index tracks the growth in turnover and expenditure of firms. It is constructed to lie between negative 1 and 1. For example, if 65% of firms have increasing turnover, 30% have decreasing turnover and 5% turnover remains unchanged, then the diffusion index is 0.35.
A new reporter is defined as a firm with a Value Added Tax (VAT) reference (that is, firm identification number), which has not previously reported its VAT returns. New reporters are published within one month of the end of the reporting period. The new reporting behaviour measure is classified by the month the data were received by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), known as the receipt date; this is not necessarily the same as the reference period (the period for which the VAT return is made).Back to table of contents
UK coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions
A full overview of coronavirus restrictions for each of the four UK constituent countries:
These restrictions should be considered when interpreting the data featured throughout this bulletin.Back to table of contents
Information on the strengths and limitations of the indicators in this bulletin is available in the Economic activity and social change in the UK, real-time indicators methodology.
The methodology for the advanced notifications of potential redundancies dataset can be found in the 3 February 2022 Economic activity and social change in the UK, real-time indicators publication. In the coming weeks there will be a full methodology paper published, which will be linked in this bulletin.Back to table of contents
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