Index of Services, UK: March 2017

Monthly movements in output for the services industries: distribution, hotels and restaurants; transport, storage and communication; business services and finance; and government and other services.

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This is an accredited national statistic.

Contact:
Email Mark Stephens

Release date:
25 May 2017

Next release:
30 June 2017

1. Main points

  • Services output increased by 0.2% between February and March 2017.

  • The largest contribution to the month-on-month growth came from transport, storage and communication, which contributed 0.23 percentage points of which motion pictures contributed 0.16 percentage points.

  • The Index of Services increased by 0.2% in Quarter 1 (Jan to Mar) 2017 compared with Quarter 4 (Oct to Dec) 2016; following growth of 0.8% between Quarter 3 (July to Sept) 2016 and Quarter 4 2016.

  • The slowdown in growth in Quarter 1 2017 mainly came from the distribution, hotels and restaurants sector with notable falls in some consumer-focused industries such as retail.

  • Growth between Quarter 4 2016 and Quarter 1 2017 has been revised down 0.1 percentage points from the previous estimate used in the gross domestic product preliminary estimate, published on 28 April 2017; this was primarily due to the receipt of late data for January and February.

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2. Things you need to know about this release

The monthly Index of Services (IoS) provides a timely indicator of growth in the output of the services industries and is the largest contributor to the output approach to the measurement of gross domestic product (GDP), accounting for 78.8% of UK GDP in 2013.

The IoS measures the UK output in: distribution, hotels and restaurants; transport, storage and communication; business services and finance; and government and other services. These data are used to produce seasonally adjusted estimates of output at chained volume measures (removing the effect of inflation). Unless otherwise stated, all estimates included in this release are based on seasonally adjusted data.

Data relating to the retail industry are broadly comparable with Retail sales in Great Britain: Mar 2017, published on 21 April 2017.

This March 2017 release contains revisions from January 2017. This means that we have incorporated additional data since this period.

Revisions can be made for a variety of reasons, the most common include:

  • late responses to surveys and administrative sources
  • forecasts being replaced by actual data
  • revisions to seasonal adjustment factors, which are re-estimated every month and reviewed annually

This revisions period is consistent with the National Accounts Revisions Policy.

The UK Index of Services has been designated by the UK Statistics Authority as National Statistics, in accordance with the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007 and signifying compliance with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.

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3. Index of Services (IoS) main figures and the longer-term trend

Table 1 shows data for the Index of Services (IoS) and each of the main components for March 2017.

Figure 1 shows the seasonally adjusted index time series for the IoS over the past decade; this shows continued services growth following the economic downturn. The monthly IoS series can be volatile and therefore we recommend that monthly growths are viewed in the context of the longer-term trend and 3-month on 3-month growth rates.

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4. Month-on-month services growth increased in March 2017

During March 2017, services output increased by 0.2% following a rise of 0.1% during February 2017.

Figure 2 shows the pattern of Index of Services (IoS) headline growth rates since January 2015 and Figure 3 shows the month-on-month contributions of each of the main IoS components.

Three of the four main components of the services industries increased in the most recent month compared with the previous month. In order of their contribution to growth:

  • transport, storage and communication increased by 1.7%, contributing 0.23 percentage points
  • business services and finance increased by 0.1%, contributing 0.06 percentage points
  • government and other services increased by 0.1%, contributing 0.04 percentage points

In contrast, distribution, hotels and restaurants decreased by 0.8%, contributing negative 0.15 percentage points.

The main industry impacting transport, storage and communication was motion pictures, which increased by 16.4% and contributed 0.16 percentage points to headline growth. Further information on the high-grossing films in March can be found on the BFI website. In addition, postal and courier activities grew by 5.5%, contributing 0.04 percentage points to headline growth.

Other industries contributing to the 0.2% rise in March were:

  • motor trades, which increased by 2.0%, contributing 0.05 percentage points
  • accounting activities, which increased by 4.1%, contributing 0.05 percentage points
  • repair of computers and household goods, which increased by 9.1%, contributing 0.03 percentage points

This was offset by a 1.8% decrease in retail trade and a 1.6% decrease in wholesale trade, contributing negative 0.14 and 0.07 percentage points respectively.

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5. Quarter-on-quarter growth slows down

Figure 4 shows that services output increased by 0.2% in Quarter 1 (Jan to Mar) 2017 compared with Quarter 4 (Oct to Dec) 2016 along with the contributions of each of the main components.

The slowdown in the quarterly estimate was due to two of the four main services components decreasing in Quarter 1 2017 compared with Quarter 4 2016. Distribution, hotels and restaurants decreased by 0.6%, contributing negative 0.11 percentage points and transport, storage and communication decreased by 0.2%, contributing negative 0.03 percentage points. In contrast, business services and finance increased by 0.6%, contributing 0.24 percentage points and government and other services increased by 0.4%, contributing 0.12 percentage points.

Retail trade and accommodation services were the main contributors to the negative growth in the distribution, hotels and restaurants sector, contributing negative 0.10 and 0.05 percentage points respectively to the fall. Food and beverage service activities partially offset some of this and increased by 2.7%, contributing 0.08 percentage points.

Telecommunication activities was the largest contributor to the negative growth in the transport, storage and communication sector, decreasing by 1.8% and contributing negative 0.04 percentage points to the 0.2% fall.

In business services and finance, growth of 0.6% was due primarily to a 5.6% increase in accounting, bookkeeping and auditing activities and a 5.6% increase in travel agency activities. Government and other services grew by 0.4%, with increases of 0.6% in education and 3.2% in other personal service activities.

Quarter-on-quarter growth was last below 0.2% in Quarter 1 2015 when services growth was 0.1% between Quarter 4 2014 and Quarter 1 2015.

More detail on individual components can be found in the Index of Services publication tables dataset. The tables also provide information on the growth for the 3 months ending in March 2017 compared with the 3 months ending March 2016.

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6. Services grew by 2.7% between March 2016 and March 2017

Figure 5 shows services output increased by 2.7% in March 2017 compared with March 2016, following growth of 2.3% in February 2017 compared with February 2016.

All four of the main components of the services industries increased in the most recent month compared with the same month last year. In order of their contribution to growth:

  • business services and finance increased by 2.4%, contributing 0.99 percentage points
  • transport, storage and communication increased by 6.0%, contributing 0.81 percentage points
  • distribution, hotels and restaurants increased by 3.2%, contributing 0.58 percentage points
  • government and other services increased by 1.2%, contributing 0.34 percentage points

Industries contributing to the 2.7% rise in March were:

  • computer programming, which increased by 9.1%, contributing 0.32 percentage points
  • food and beverage service activities, which increased by 9.8%, contributing 0.26 percentage points
  • activities of head offices; management consultancy activities, which increased by 12.8%, contributing 0.23 percentage points
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7. What is the contribution of services to GDP?

With a weight of 78.8% in 2013, the services industries are the largest industrial grouping in the output approach to measuring gross domestic product (GDP).

Also published today (25 May 2017) is the Second estimate of GDP: Jan to Mar 2017, reporting that GDP in Quarter 1 (Jan to Mar) 2017 was estimated to have increased by 0.2% compared with the previous quarter, which is revised down 0.1% from the previous estimate. The services aggregate was the dominant contributor to the quarter-on-quarter percentage change in GDP, contributing 0.17 percentage points. Production, construction and agriculture contributed 0.01, 0.02 and 0.00 percentage points respectively to the headline figure.

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9. What’s changed in this release?

This is the fifth Index of Services (IoS) bulletin released as part of the new economic theme days. As such this bulletin now follows a more streamlined format and some tables such as response rates and revisions, previously found in the background notes, can now be found in the main datasets.

In response to feedback from our users, a new table has been added to the main datasets. This table displays monthly chained volume indices for services and its main components to four decimal places.

Monthly economic commentary was published alongside this release, presenting new analysis on the latest economic data.

We welcome your feedback on this new-style bulletin via our short survey.

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10. Quality and methodology

The monthly Index of Services (IoS) was developed to provide a timely indicator of growth in the output of services industries, at constant prices for the UK. The IoS is an important component of monthly output (GDP(O)), representing about 78.8% of UK gross domestic product (GDP) as of 2013. The IoS shares the exact same industry coverage as the corresponding quarterly series within GDP(O).

The Index of Services datasets contain additional material, including:

  • Monthly Business Survey response rates
  • publication tables
  • revisions triangles
  • lower-level time series data

The Index of Services Quality and Methodology Information document contains important information on:

  • the strengths and limitations of the data and how it compares with related data
  • uses and users of the data
  • how the output was created
  • the quality of the output including the accuracy of the data
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Contact details for this Statistical bulletin

Mark Stephens
ios.enquiries@ons.gov.uk
Telephone: +44 (0)1633 456387

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