Figure 1: GDP fell by 10.4% in the three months to April, as government restrictions on movement dramatically reduced economic activity
UK GDP growth, Quarter 1 (Jan to Mar) 2005 until February to April 2020
- Q1 refers to Quarter 1 (Jan to Mar), Q2 refers to Quarter 2 (Apr to June), Q3 refers to Quarter 3 (July to Sep), Q4 refers to Quarter 4 (Oct to Dec).
- Rolling three-month estimates are calculated by comparing GDP in a three-month period with GDP in the previous three-month period. For example, GDP in February to April compared with the previous November to January.
- Please note, when first published this chart was labelled as ‘% growth’ for units.
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This release captures the direct effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the government measures taken to reduce transmission of the virus. The most significant was the introduction of restrictions in movement across the UK, which began on 23 March 2020.
This bulletin provides a broad overview of the economy and the impact of the coronavirus. However, a more detailed analysis of the impact on the output of businesses has also been published today (12 June 2020).
Commenting on today’s GDP figures, Jonathan Athow, Deputy National Statistician for Economic Statistics, said:
“April’s fall in GDP is the biggest the UK has ever seen, more than three times larger than last month and almost ten times larger than the steepest pre-covid-19 fall. In April the economy was around 25% smaller than in February.
“Virtually all areas of the economy were hit, with pubs, education, health and car sales all giving the biggest contributions to this historic fall.
“Manufacturing and construction also saw significant falls, with manufacture of cars and housebuilding particularly badly affected.
“The UK’s trade with the rest of the world was also badly affected by the pandemic, with large falls in both the import and export of cars, fuels, works of art and clothing.”Back to table of contents
Figure 2: Breakdown of GDP and its sub-sectors, rolling three-month growth rates and contributions to growth, February to April 2020
All the headline sectors provided a negative contribution to gross domestic product (GDP) growth in the three months to April 2020. The services sector fell by 9.9%, production by 9.5% and construction by 18.2%. The impacts of the coronavirus (COVID-19) were seen right across the economy, with nearly all sub-sectors falling in the three months to April.Back to table of contents
Monthly gross domestic product (GDP) fell by 20.4% in April 2020, the biggest monthly fall since the series began in 1997.
|Change in GDP|
to April 2020)
to April 2020)
|Index of Services||0.0%||-6.2%||-19.0%||-24.0%||-9.9%|
|Index of Production||-0.1%||-4.2%||-20.3%||-23.7%||-9.5%|
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Record falls were also seen across all sectors:
- services – largest monthly fall since series began in 1997
- production – largest monthly fall since series began in 1968
- manufacturing – largest monthly fall since series began in 1968
- construction – largest monthly fall since series began in 2010
The monthly growth rate for GDP is volatile. It should therefore be used with caution and alongside other measures, such as the three-month growth rate, when looking for an indicator of the longer-term trend of the economy. However, it is useful in highlighting one-off changes that can be masked by three-month growth rates.Back to table of contents
Rolling three-month services growth fell by 9.9% in April 2020, following a 1.9% fall in the three months to March 2020. This was driven by falls in nearly every industry, most notably:
- education, which fell by 18.8% as a result of school closures during March and April
- food and beverage service activities, which fell by 38.8% as a result of the closure of bars and restaurants throughout March and April
- wholesale and retail trade and repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles, which fell by 41.6%, predominantly driven by a reduction in new car registrations
- health, which fell by 11.4% as a result of reduced activity in elective operations and fewer accident and emergency visits
- retail trade, which fell 8.9% as many retailers temporarily ceased trading in April
In April 2020, the services sector fell by 19.0%, the largest monthly fall on record. The largest driver to this fall was wholesale, retail and motor trades followed by accommodation and food services, education, professional scientific and technical activities and human health and social activities. The only sub-sector that didn’t fall was public administration and defence, which was flat in April.Back to table of contents
Rolling three-month output in the production sector fell by 9.5% in April 2020, with manufacturing falling by 10.5%.
There were widespread falls across manufacturing industries with 12 out of 13 sub-sectors falling. The most notable was the manufacture of transport equipment, which fell by 28.3%. The only increase in manufacturing was the manufacture of basic pharmaceuticals, which grew by 15.4%.
Elsewhere, energy production, mining and quarrying and water supply all fell. The fall in mining and quarrying was a result of some COVID-19 related shutdowns along with the reduced demand for oil and gas.
Production fell by 20.3% in April 2020, with manufacturing falling by 24.3%. The largest cause of this decrease was the manufacture of transport equipment, which fell by 50.2% following COVID-19-led shutdowns of car plants across the UK. The manufacture of pharmaceuticals was the only industry to show an increase.Back to table of contents
Rolling three-month growth in the construction sector was negative 18.2% in April 2020. This fall was caused by private housing, which fell 28.3%, and private commercial which fell 19.6%.
Month-on-month, output in construction fell by a record 40.1% in April 2020, following a fall of 5.9% in the March 2020. This fall was driven by record declines in all types of work, with the largest contribution coming from private housing which fell 59.2%.Back to table of contents
In response to the developing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, we are working to ensure that we continue to publish economic statistics. For more information, please see COVID-19 and the production of statistics.
This release captures the direct effects of the coronavirus pandemic and the government measures taken to reduce transmission of the virus. Because of the implementation of these government measures, which include restrictions in movement, we faced an increased number of challenges in producing monthly and quarterly estimates of UK gross domestic product (GDP) for April. More detailed information on the challenges and the steps taken to mitigate those can be found in Coronavirus and the effects on UK GDP.
As a result of these challenges, GDP estimates for April 2020 are subject to more uncertainty than usual.Back to table of contents
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