More detailed commentary on the impacts of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on the UK economy and society is available on the following pages:
Of those UK businesses that responded to the Business Impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) Survey (BICS) that are either continuing to trade or have paused trading, 94% indicated that they are interested in at least one of the government schemes on offer to them, with 80% expressing interest in the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
Over 8 in 10 adults (85.4%) in Great Britain said they had complied with the stay at home guidance in the past seven days for the Opinions and Lifestyle (OPN) Survey period 3 to 13 April.
Over half of adults in Great Britain homeschooling their children are confident in their abilities, but 50.2% say it is negatively affecting the well-being of their children, according to the 3 to 13 April OPN survey.
In Quarter 1 (Jan to Mar) 2020, the VAT quarter-on-quarter turnover diffusion index for all industries was negative 0.03, slightly below its historical average; this means there were slightly more firms reporting a decrease in turnover from the previous quarter than an increase.
Daily shipping data to 18 April 2020 show a gradual decrease in daily ship visits to the UK in the past few weeks.
This bulletin contains:
Final results from Wave 2 of the Business Impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) Survey (BICS) of UK businesses for the period 23 March to 5 April 2020.
Final results for Wave 3 of the Opinions and Lifestyle (OPN) Survey, covering the period 3 April to 13 April 2020 exploring the social impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) on individuals in Great Britain.
Weekly and daily shipping data for the UK, up to 6 April 2020 and 18 April 2020, respectively.
Monthly and quarterly Value Added Tax (VAT) diffusion indexes, which track changes in VAT reporting behaviour up to Quarter 1 (Jan to Mar) 2020.
We will add new experimental data and indices as and when new data become available and list them in this section.
This release does not contain data on the number of deaths involving the coronavirus (COVID-19). Our weekly deaths bulletin and accompanying dataset provide the most up-to-date figures on deaths involving COVID-19 in England and Wales.
Suspension of prices data for high-demand products
Because of the way our automated web-scrapers collected prices from one particular high-street retailer, our new, experimental price indices have been overstating online price changes for some categories of high-demand products. We are temporarily suspending publication of these figures to give us time to improve price collection from this retailer. We will correct these indices and resume publication of these data as soon as possible.
These data are experimental statistics and this error has no impact on any of our regular consumer price statistics. This will not affect our use of web-scraped data in our future price transformation plans.Back to table of contents
This section discusses the shipping indicators based on counts of all vessels, cargos and tankers up to 18 April 2020 for daily data and week commencing 6 April 2020 for weekly data.
Following a review, we have changed the source of these data and improved the methodology used to produce them. We aim to increase the length of all time series in future releases.
As discussed in Faster indicators of UK economic activity: shipping, we expect the shipping indicators to be related to the import and export of goods.
In the week commencing 6 April 2020, the number of unique visits to UK ports fell by 4.6%. Total visits to UK ports decreased by 0.3% in the same period.
We have now also started to include daily shipping indicators for the ship visits (Figure 3). We will look to include more daily data in future releases.
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It should be noted that with coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions coming into effect in mid-March, the majority of data in the quarterly VAT indicators discussed in this section reflect activity in the first two months of the quarter.
The heatmap is a visualisation of the turnover diffusion indices that track changes in VAT reporting behaviour and can be useful for identifying patterns in the VAT data. For a definition of "diffusion index" see the Glossary section.
The VAT indices are colour-coded based on their standard deviation from the mean across the time series. Larger deviations are more darkly coloured, with red representing negative change, and teal positive change, when compared with the previous period.
New quarterly turnover diffusion indices for all industries containing approximately a quarter of a million firms' VAT returns are available up to Quarter 1 (Jan to Mar) 2020.
Only three industries have enough reporters to be able to compile monthly turnover diffusion indices within a month of the reporting period (March 2020 in this release):
- agriculture, forestry and fishing
- wholesale and retail trade
March 2020 indices should therefore be used with caution and are not discussed in the commentary, though are available in the accompanying datasets and heatmap. March 2020 estimates of Retail Sales in Great Britain will be published by ONS on 24 April 2020.
Monthly turnover diffusion indices for other industries and the all-industries measure, containing approximately 40,000 firms, are available up to February 2020 in this release.
Figure 4: In Quarter 1 (January to March) 2020, the all industry turnover diffusion index was lower than its historical average when compared with the previous quarter
- Agri - Agriculture, forestry and fishing, All - All industries, Retail - Wholesale and retail trade, SA - Seasonally adjusted, NSA - Not seasonally adjusted.
- *Revised estimate using Month 2 data.
- Agri, Construction and Retail sectors in the monthly data use revised Month 2 data up to the latest available period (February 2020), and Month 1 provisional data for the most recent monthly period (March 2020).
- All industries are unweighted: each firm contributing to the index has the same weight regardless of turnover, size or industry.
- The thresholds for the colours in the heatmap are based on standard deviations from the mean of the indicator between 2008 and 2018.
Figure 4 shows that in Quarter 1 2020 compared with the previous quarter, across all industries (including agriculture, construction and services), slightly more firms saw a fall in turnover than a rise, compared with the 2008 to 2018 average (light red). Production was around its historical averages (grey). No values were considerably above (dark teal) or below (dark red) their historical averages.
For Quarter 1 2020, the quarter-on-quarter turnover diffusion index for all industries was negative 0.03, slightly below its historical average. This means there were slightly more firms reporting a decrease in turnover from the previous quarter than an increase. The index for services, production and agriculture were also slightly lower than their historical average, though please note the limited data for March 2020, which is included as part of the Quarter 1 2020 estimate.
Road traffic and VAT reporters
Data on counts of vehicles in England up to February 2020 and the number of new VAT reporters in March 2020 are also available in the Economic activity, faster indicators, UK dataset.Back to table of contents
Economic activity, faster indicators, UK
Dataset | Released 23 April 2020
Data on road traffic and Value Added Tax (VAT) data from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
Weekly and daily shipping indicators
Dataset | Released 23 April 2020
The weekly and daily shipping indicators dataset associated with the faster indicators of UK economic activity.
Business Impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) Survey (BICS)
Dataset | Released 23 April 2020
Initial results from the new Business Impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) Survey (BICS). This qualitative fortnightly survey covers business turnover, workforce, prices and trade. This dataset includes additional information collected as part of the survey including details on prices, and imports and exports, which are not included within this bulletin or the Coronavirus and the economic impacts on the UK bulletin.
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.
The diffusion index tracks the growth in turnover and expenditure of firms. It is constructed to lie between negative one and one. For example, if all firms report an increase in turnover or expenditure in the latest period relative to the base period, the index would be one.
Underlying health condition
In the Opinions and Lifestyle (OPN) Survey section, adults with an underlying health condition include those with:
Alzheimer's disease or dementia; Angina or long-term heart problem; Asthma; Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or Asperger's (Asperger syndrome); Cancer; Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or long-term lung problem; Diabetes; Epilepsy or other conditions that affect the brain; High blood pressure; Kidney or liver disease; Stroke or cerebral haemorrhage or cerebral thrombosis and Rheumatoid arthritis.
Questions about homeschooling in the OPN are asked when the responding individual has a dependent child in their household. A dependent child is defined as someone who is under the age of 16 years, or someone who is aged 16 to 18 years old and has never been married and is in full-time education.
For the OPN survey, a person is said to be "in employment" if they had a paid job, either as an employee or self-employed; or they did any casual work for payment; or they did any unpaid or voluntary work in the previous week.Back to table of contents
These weekly and daily faster shipping indicators data are created through new experimental methods and are not official statistics. More quality and methodology information is available in Faster indicators of UK economic activity: shipping.
VAT diffusion indexes are created through new experimental methods and are not official statistics. More quality and methodology information is available in Faster indicators of UK economic activity: Value Added Tax returns.
Road traffic indicators are created through new experimental methods and are not official statistics. More quality and methodology information is available in Faster indicators of UK economic activity: road traffic data for England.
Business Impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) Survey
The business indicators are based on responses from the voluntary, fortnightly Business Impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) Survey, which captures business' views on impact on turnover, workforce, prices, trade and business resilience. The data relate to final Wave 2 results, covering the survey period 23 March to 5 April 2020 and the survey questions for the period are available in Business Impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) Survey questions 23 March to 5 April 2020.
Estimates from the Business Impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) Survey (BICS) are currently unweighted and should be treated with caution when used to evaluate the impact of the coronavirus across the UK economy. Each business was assigned the same weight regardless of turnover, size or industry.
More information on the quality and methodology, including response rates, sample size and weighting, is available in the "Measuring the data" section of the Coronavirus and the economic impacts on the UK bulletin.
Social impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) (OPN)
Data on the social impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) on Great Britain were collected from the Opinions and Lifestyle Survey (OPN) and the Labour Market Survey (LMS). The data related to final Wave 3 results, for the period 3 April to 13 April 2020. In this third wave, 2,010 individuals were sampled, with a response rate of 59.9% (or 1,203 individuals) for the survey.
More information on the strengths and limitations of the OPN Survey is available in the "Strengths and limitations" section of the Coronavirus and the social impacts on Great Britain bulletin.Back to table of contents
VAT, shipping and road traffic indicators
The VAT, shipping and road traffic indicators in this release, along with previous faster indicators releases, are part of the faster indicators of UK economic activity project and are not official statistics. However, they are still in development.
It should be noted that these indicators are not intended to be an early measure or predictor of gross domestic product (GDP), and their potential relationship with headline GDP should be interpreted with caution. Instead, they provide an early picture of a range of activities that are likely to have an impact on the economy, supplementing official economic statistics.
Business Impact of Coronavirus Survey
The Business Impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) Survey (BICS) is voluntary and responses are qualitative, which should be treated with caution as results reflect the characteristics of those who responded and not necessarily the wider business population.
These data should not be used in place of official statistics. The survey was designed to give an indication of the impact of the coronavirus on businesses and a timelier estimate than other surveys.
More information on the strengths and limitations of the BICS data is available in the "Strengths and limitations" section of the Coronavirus and the economic impacts on the UK bulletin.
Social impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) (OPN)
More information on the strengths and limitations of the Opinions and Lifestyle (OPN) Survey is available in the "Strengths and limitations" section of the Coronavirus and the social impacts on Great Britain bulletin.
Publication of coronavirus (COVID-19) related data
We will be publishing this faster indicator bulletin on a weekly basis during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This is to ensure we are meeting user needs for more timely data. We will be adding new data and experimental indicators as and when data become available each week.
This publication will include regular updated data from the new fortnightly survey, BICS, online prices for high-demand products and weekly indicators from the OPN Survey on social impact of the coronavirus.Back to table of contents
Contact details for this Statistical bulletin
Telephone: +44 (0)1633 651 618