GDP monthly estimate, UK : April 2022

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.

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Contact:
Email Niamh McAuley

Release date:
13 June 2022

Next release:
13 July 2022

1. Main points

  • Gross domestic product (GDP) fell by 0.3% in April 2022, after a decline of 0.1% in March 2022; UK GDP increased by 0.2% in the three months to April 2022.  

  • Services fell by 0.3% in April 2022 and these were the main contributors to April's fall in GDP, reflecting a large decrease (5.6%) in human health and social work, where there was a significant reduction in NHS Test and Trace activity.

  • Production fell by 0.6% in April 2022, driven by a fall in manufacturing of 1.0% on the month, as businesses continue to report the impact of price increases and supply chain shortages.

  • Construction also fell by 0.4% in April 2022, following strong growth in March 2022 when there was significant repair and maintenance activity following the storms experienced in the latter half of February 2022.

  • This is the first time that all main sectors have contributed negatively to a monthly GDP estimate since January 2021.
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2. Monthly GDP

Monthly real gross domestic product (GDP) is estimated to have fallen for the second consecutive month, by 0.3% in April 2022 (Figure 1), and is now 0.9% above its pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) level (February 2020).

Services fell by 0.3% on the month, and this was the main contributor to April's 0.3% fall in GDP. Production and construction also fell on the month by 0.6% and 0.4% respectively. This is the first time that all main sectors have contributed negatively to a monthly GDP estimate since January 2021 (Figure 2).

GDP grew by 0.2% in the three months to April 2022, with construction contributing 0.2 percentage points, while services and production were broadly flat.

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3. The services sector

Services fell by 0.3% in April 2022, and this was the largest contributor to April's fall in GDP. This is the second consecutive month of negative growth seen in the services sector, following a fall of 0.2% in March 2022.

Human health and social work activities fell by 5.6% in April 2022, and this was the main negative contributor to April's fall in services (detracting 0.5 percentage points as shown in figure 3). The driver of this fall was human health activities, which fell by 7.6%. This largely reflects the significant reduction in the coronavirus (COVID-19) NHS Test and Trace activity following changes to testing policies across the UK, particularly the changes to the COVID-19 testing policy in England from April. Also in this sector, residential care activities and social work activities without accommodation fell by 0.6% and 0.1% respectively.

The largest positive contributor to services in April 2022 was the wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles sub-sector, growing by 2.7%. The main driver of growth within this sub-sector was the wholesale and retail trade and repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles industry, which increased 15.2% following a fall of 15.1% in March 2022 (which was the weakest March for new car registrations since 1998, according to The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT)). Elsewhere in this sector, retail trade grew by 1.4% in April 2022, while wholesale trade grew by 0.1%.

NHS Test and Trace services and vaccine programmes

The NHS Test and Trace and COVID-19 vaccination programme detracted 0.5 percentage points from GDP growth in April 2022. This was driven by further falls in NHS Test and Trace numbers, which fell by 70%, reflecting the changes to the COVID-19 testing policy in England from April. The vaccination programmes grew by 71% on the month on account of the spring booster campaign as shown in Table 1.

A full record of the volume estimates of the NHS Test and Trace service and vaccination programmes, along with their contribution to GDP growth, can be found in our accompanying dataset.

Consumer facing services

Output in consumer-facing services grew by 2.6% in April 2022, following a fall of 1.8% in March. The April increase was driven by growth of 7.6% in other personal service activities, with particular strength from the hairdressing and grooming industry. Furthermore, retail trade also grew by 1.4% on the month to April driven by growth in food stores as shown in our retail sales bulletin. This was partially offset by gambling and betting activities, the largest negative contributor in consumer-facing services, falling 2.5%.

Consumer-facing services were 4.4% below their pre-coronavirus levels (February 2020) in April 2022, while all other services were 2.6% above.

The main driver to consumer-facing services remaining below pre-coronavirus levels was buying and selling, renting and operating of own or leased real estate (excluding imputed rent) contributing negative 3.1 percentage points. This is after dropping from all time high levels in February 2020 (Figure 5).

Overall, services remained unchanged in the three months to April 2022, compared with the previous three months (November 2021 to January 2022). Positive growth was seen in 8 of the 14 services sectors, offset by negative contributions in the other six services sectors.

More detailed breakdowns on services are available in our Index of Services, UK: April 2022 bulletin

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4. The production sector

Production output fell for the third consecutive month in April 2022, with a contraction of 0.6% primarily driven by manufacturing.

Manufacturing decreased by 1.0% in April 2022 with falls in 8 out of 13 of the sub-sectors. The largest falls were in the other manufacturing and repair sub-sector (down 4.2%), which saw falls in all five industries in April 2020. There was also a fall of 4.6% in the manufacture of computer, electronic and optical production, with widespread weakness seen in this sub-sector. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the manufacturing sub-sector as a whole was affected by increasing prices, in particular petrol and energy prices. For more information, please see the Cross Industry themes section.

There were some slight growths within manufacturing. These were the growth of 0.9% in the manufacture of rubber and plastics products, and other non-metallic mineral products, 0.3% in the manufacture of transport equipment, and 0.2% in the manufacture of basic metals and metal products.

Elsewhere within production, electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply increased by 0.6% in April 2022. This was driven by a growth of 6.6% in the manufacture of gas, distribution of gaseous fuels through mains, steam and aircon supply. This previously fell by 4.3% in March 2022 as a result of mild weather. Mining and quarrying fell by 0.8%, driven by a 5.5% fall in other mining and quarrying.

Water supply and sewerage increased by 1.7% on the month, with sewerage (up 2.4%) and waste collection, treatment and disposal activities (up 1.9%), both contributing equally to growth.

Overall, production increased by 0.1% in the three months to April 2022. There were growths of 1.7% in mining and quarrying, 0.6% in electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply, and 0.3% in water supply and sewerage. This was almost entirely offset by a fall of 0.2% in manufacturing.

More detailed breakdowns on production are available in our Index of Production, UK: April 2022 bulletin.

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5. The construction sector

Construction output decreased 0.4% in April 2022. This is the first monthly decrease since October 2021 (fall of 0.9%) following five consecutive months of growth. It should also be noted that the monthly decrease in April 2022 is coming off the record monthly level of £14,994 million in March 2022.

Despite the monthly fall, construction output was still 3.3% above its pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic level (February 2020) in April 2022 (Figure 8). 

The decrease in monthly construction output in April 2022 was driven by a fall in repair and maintenance (2.4%), which was offset slightly by a rise in new work (0.9%). Most notably, the fall in repair and maintenance work in April 2022 is partly a by-product of the growth (3.0%) in March 2022. This is because demand was strong on account of the repair work experienced from the storms experienced in the latter half of February 2022 (PDF, 114KB).

At the sector level, 4 of the 9 sectors saw a decrease on the month in April 2022. Private housing repair and maintenance (6.5%) and private commercial new work (3.8%) were the main contributors to the decrease. 

Construction output rose 2.9% in the three months to April 2022. Increases in both new work, and repair and maintenance (2.2% and 4.0% respectively) contributed to this growth, with 8 out of the 9 sectors seeing an increase.

Further detail on construction growth rates can be found in our Construction output in Great Britain: April 2022 bulletin.

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6. Cross-industry themes

There were some common themes that were anecdotally reported to have played a part in performance across different industries. However, it is often difficult to quantify these effects.

Many respondents reported that increases in the cost of production had affected their business. Of those that specified how the cost of production had increased, many explained that the cost of petrol and diesel had some kind of effect, either because they had to pay more for inputs or because they had to raise the price of the products they sold. Other respondents also reported that large increases in utility bills, particularly for gas and electricity, had affected them. Some respondents reported price rises to other inputs such as animal feed, chemicals, aluminium, steel, cooking oil and fertiliser. Other respondents reported difficulties in sourcing machinery, electronic components, kitchen appliances, and wire harnesses for cars.

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7. Monthly GDP data

Monthly gross domestic product by gross value added
Dataset | Released 13 June 2022
The gross value added (GVA) tables showing the monthly and annual growths and indices as published within the monthly gross domestic product (GDP) statistical bulletin.

Contributions to monthly GDP
Dataset | Released 13 June 2022
Contributions to growth within monthly gross domestic product (GDP), UK.

Monthly gross domestic product: time series
Dataset MGDP | Released 13 June 2022
Monthly estimate of gross domestic product (GDP) containing constant price gross value added (GVA) data for the UK.

Monthly GDP and main sectors to four decimal places
Dataset | Released 13 June 2022
Monthly index values for monthly gross domestic product (GDP) and the main sectors in the UK to four decimal places.

Revisions triangles for monthly GDP
Dataset | Released 13 June 2022
Comparison of gross domestic product (GDP) first estimates against estimates published later.

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8. Glossary

Contribution to growth

Contribution to growth indicates how many percentage points a sector or industry is adding or removing from a given growth rate, usually headline gross domestic product (GDP) growth.

Gross domestic product (GDP)

A measure of the economic activity produced by a country or region. GDP growth is the main indicator of economic performance. There are three approaches used to measure GDP:

  • the output approach 

  • the expenditure approach 

  • the income approach  

Index numbers

Data relative to a given base value, which typically refers to a year.

Rolling three-month growth

Rolling three-month growth takes the average level of three consecutive months (for example, April, May and June), and compares it with the average level of the previous three months (for example, January, February and March). The rolling three-month growth rate is often used alongside the monthly growth rate, as the latter can be more volatile.

For further definitions, please see our Glossary of economic terms.

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9. Measuring the data

Further information on measuring the data across our main data sources is available in the following publications:

There have been large movements in UK gross domestic product (GDP) over the course of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This is primarily in response to public health restrictions and voluntary social distancing that have been in place over this period. Given the size of these effects, there has been a focus on where the economy is relative to its pre-coronavirus pandemic levels.

In the UK, we produce estimates of monthly and quarterly GDP. However, there are reasons these would not provide the same estimate as to where the economy is relative to its pre-pandemic levels. This primarily reflects that monthly estimates of GDP are based on only the output measure of GDP, while quarterly estimates of GDP reflect the average of the three approaches (output, income and expenditure).

However, the coronavirus pandemic has brought many measurement challenges that have created more uncertainty around our three approaches. This has led to an initial divergence between the output and average estimate, which is then reflected in how we compare monthly and quarterly estimates of GDP. Further information is available in our Measuring monthly and quarterly UK gross domestic product during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic article.

Estimates for the construction industry within monthly GDP will differ to those published in the construction output release, as they account for both the outputs produced and inputs consumed by the industry. There are also some coverage differences given the use of the Annual Business Survey in their compilation.

Within the monthly GDP publication, government data are sourced on a quarterly basis; a monthly forecast is used to estimate data for the monthly round until quarterly data are available. While this is a standard practice with many of our data sources, pre-empting the behaviour of a series during a pandemic, in particular for health and education, comes with more uncertainty than usual. Therefore, caution is advised when looking at the monthly estimates beyond the latest published quarter.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) is aware of reclassifications or relocations of companies that may impact these published estimates of GDP and associated breakdowns. The ONS is monitoring the data and will seek to implement any resulting changes into the national accounts as soon as possible.

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10. Strengths and limitations

Quality and methodology information on strengths, limitations, appropriate uses, and how the data were created is available in the our Gross domestic product (GDP) QMI.

Monthly growth rates can be volatile. This indicator should therefore be used with caution and alongside other measures, such as the three-month growth rate, when looking for an indicator of the medium-term trend of the economy. However, it is useful in highlighting one-off changes that can be masked by three-month growth rates.

The latest comparisons of month on same month a year ago should be treated with caution. This is on account of base effects influencing growth rates because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic throughout 2020 and 2021 and its impact on the economy. Such comparisons and growth rates can be found in our accompanying dataset.

Consultation on ONS release times

The Office for Statistics Regulation has finalised its consultation on release practices. As a response, the ONS has welcomed the findings. Specifically, the response notes that the release-time exemptions, which were granted during the pandemic, are now incorporated into the revised Code of Practice. As such, the monthly GDP release will continue to be published at 7am.

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Contact details for this Statistical bulletin

Niamh McAuley
gdp@ons.gov.uk
Telephone: +44 1633 455284