Index of Services, UK: November 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:
26 January 2018

Next release:
22 February 2018

1. Main points

  • In the three months to November 2017, services output increased by 0.4% compared with the three months ending August 2017.
  • Financial service activities and retail trade made the largest contributions to the three-month on three-month growth, each contributing 0.05 percentage points.
  • In the three months to November 2017, services output increased by 1.3% compared with the three months ending November 2016; this growth is equal to October 2017 and is the lowest since the three months ending October 2013.
  • The Index of Services increased by 0.4% between October and November 2017; this is the largest month-on-month growth since August 2016.
  • Retail trade made the largest contribution at industry level to the month-on-month increase, contributing 0.07 percentage points.
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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 79.3% of UK GDP in 2015. Also published today (26 January 2018) is the Gross domestic product, preliminary estimate; October to December 2017.

The IoS measures 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.

The IoS is an important economic indicator and one of the earliest short-term measures of economic activity. It is used in the compilation of the national accounts and widely used by private and public sector institutions, particularly by the Bank of England and Her Majesty’s Treasury to assist in informed decision and policy-making.

Data for the latest period are primarily based upon the Monthly Business Survey (MBS) of approximately 26,000 businesses as detailed in MBS Turnover in services industries.

In addition, from the October 2017 bulletin published in December 2017, we have also included VAT data across 35 services industries for small- and medium-sized businesses. These have been used to supplement data from the MBS from January 2016 to June 2017. Further information on the use of VAT data was published in VAT turnover implementation into UK National Accounts: December 2017 update. The supply of VAT turnover data will be updated at the final estimate of GDP within the quarter, in the Quarterly national accounts publication.

Further data is received from a wide variety of data sources as described in the GDP(O) source catalogue.

Data relating to the retail industry are broadly comparable with Retail sales, Great Britain: December 2017, published on 19 January 2018.

This November 2017 release contains revisions from October 2017 and is consistent with the National Accounts Revisions Policy. 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

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

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

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4. Three-month on three-month services growth increases in November 2017

Figure 1 shows the three-month on three-month Index of Services (IoS) growth rates from January 2012.

Services output increased by 0.4% in the three months ending November 2017 when compared with the three months ending August 2017. Figure 2 shows the contributions to growth from the four main IoS components.

Business services and finance continues to be responsible for the majority of the three-month on three-month growth. This component has now been the largest contributor for five consecutive periods. In the three months to November 2017, this component increased by 0.8%, contributing 0.32 percentage points.

Business services and finance is made up of 21 industries, 12 of which made positive contributions to growth, while there were none that made negative contributions in the period. The industry with the largest contribution to growth in this sector was financial service activities, increasing by 1.0% and contributing 0.05 percentage points. Additionally, employment activities, activities of head offices and office administration each contributed 0.04 percentage points. They increased by 3.3%, 2.3% and 2.4% respectively.

Two of the other three main IoS sectors also increased. Government and other services increased by 0.3%, contributing 0.09 percentage points. Human health activities made the largest contribution to growth in this sector, increasing by 0.6% and contributing 0.04 percentage points.

The transport, storage and communication sector increased by 0.2%, contributing 0.03 percentage points. The largest positive contribution for this sector came from warehousing and support activities, which increased by 2.8%, contributing 0.04 percentage points.

Distribution, hotels and restaurants fell in the three months to November 2017, contributing negative 0.01 percentage points. The industries responsible for this fall were motor trade, food and beverage services, and accommodation, which decreased by 1.3%, 0.8% and 0.9% respectively. They contributed negative 0.03, 0.02 and 0.01 percentage points respectively, however, the majority of this fall was offset by retail trade, which increased by 0.7% and contributed 0.05 percentage points. This industry made the joint largest contribution to the positive growth in IoS for the three months to November 2017. Please see the Retail sales, Great Britain: December 2017 release for more information.

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5. Three-month services growth on a year ago

Figure 3 shows the three-month on a year ago Index of Services (IoS) growth rates since January 2012 and Figure 4 shows the three-month on a year ago growth rates of each of the main IoS components.

In the three months to November 2017, services output increased by 1.3% compared with the three months ending November 2016. This growth remains the same as the three months to October 2017 and is the lowest since the three months to October 2013. Figure 4 breaks this down further into the four main IoS components.

Two of the four main components of the services industries are contributing to the slowdown in the three-month on a year ago growth. The weakening growth rates in distribution, hotels and restaurants, and transport, storage and communication indicate that the industries dominated by domestic consumption continue to fall. In contrast, industries with larger export components within business services and finance display more stable growths.

In the three months to November 2017, distribution, hotels and restaurants increased by 0.6% compared with the three months ending November 2016. This component’s growth has weakened over the past year and is now at its lowest since the three months to June 2012.

The transport, storage and communication sector increased by 1.1% in the three months to November 2017 compared with the three months ending November 2016. Similarly this component has also seen its three-month on a year ago growth rate weaken over 2017, although the growth in the three months to November 2017 is slightly stronger than the three months to October 2017.

In contrast, business services and finance’s three-month on a year ago growth has remained more stable over the last two years. In the three months to November 2017 it increased by 1.9%, which is the highest growth since the three months to March 2017. Government and other services has also seen a rise in the three-month on a year ago growth since the start of 2017. In November 2017, this sector increased by 1.0%, its highest since the three months to April 2016.

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6. Month-on-month services growth strongest in 2017

Services output increased by 0.4% in November 2017 following a rise of 0.2% in October 2017. This is the largest month-on-month growth since August 2016, which also increased by 0.4%.

Figure 5 shows the Index of Services (IoS) month-on-month growth rates since January 2015 and Figure 6 shows the month-on-month contributions of each of the main IoS components for November 2017.

All four of the main components of the services industries increased during November 2017. In order of their contribution to growth:

  • business services and finance increased by 0.5%, contributing 0.22 percentage points
  • distribution, hotels and restaurants increased by 0.5%, contributing 0.10 percentage points
  • transport, storage and communication increased by 0.5%, contributing 0.07 percentage points
  • government and other services increased by 0.1%, contributing 0.03 percentage points

There was widespread growth in November across the whole of services, with positive contributions from 26 out of the 51 industries. This growth was partially offset by six industries, each contributing negative 0.01 percentage points.

Retail trade made the largest contribution to the month-on-month movement, increasing by 1.0% and contributing 0.07 percentage points. Please see the Retail sales, Great Britain: December 2017 release for more information. Architectural and engineering activities also made a large contribution to the monthly growth, increasing by 2.0% and contributing 0.04 percentage points. Within this industry it was the largest engineering businesses that contributed most to the increase.

Three other industries each contributed 0.03 percentage points in November 2017. Motion pictures increased by 3.9%, with motion picture distribution, television production and motion picture, video and television post-production the main components behind the growth in the industry. Travel agents and tour operators increased by 3.6% and postal and courier activities increased by 3.1%; the latter being due to the increased activity around 2017's Black Friday and the build-up to Christmas.

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8. Feedback on this bulletin

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

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9. 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 (gross domestic product output approach (GDP(O)), representing about 79.3% of UK gross domestic product (GDP) as of 2015. 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 (MBS) response rates (current and historic)
  • IoS and main component indices to four decimal places
  • publication tables
  • revisions triangles
  • lower-level time series data
  • Monthly Business Survey (MBS) turnover of services industries

The Index of Services Quality and Methodology Information report 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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