More detailed commentary on the social impacts of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is available on the following page:Back to table of contents
Of the 4,598 businesses that responded to the Business Impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) Survey (BICS), 29% reported having to reduce staff numbers in the short-term; those within the accommodation and food services sector, the administrative and support services sector and the arts, entertainment and recreation sector reported the largest proportions of reducing staff numbers in the short-term for the period 9 March to 22 March 2020.
Of the businesses who responded to the BICS, 40% reported they were confident they could continue operating during the COVID-19 pandemic, for the period 9 March to 22 March 2020.
Overall, online prices of items in the high-demand products (HDP) basket have increased by 1.5% over the period week 2 (23 to 29 March) to week 3 (30 March to 5 April).
In the week commencing 23 March, the number of unique visits by ships to UK ports fell by 7.3%; total visits to UK ports decreased by 12.4% in the same period.
The Opinions and Lifestyle (OPN) Survey reported over 8 in 10 people (85.7%) said they were either very worried or somewhat worried that they or someone in their family would be infected by the coronavirus (COVID-19).
Nearly all adults in the OPN either cancelled or postponed plans (89.2%) because of the coronavirus, or did not have plans in the previous seven days.
A timely indication of price change for high-demand products (HDP) has been developed by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), covering the period 16 March to 5 April 2020. These indices are produced using different methods, data and quality thresholds to the regular ONS consumer price statistics and only cover a small proportion of the total Consumer Prices Index including owner occupiers’ housing costs (CPIH) basket of items.
As such it is not appropriate to compare these movements to the headline CPIH, which incorporate a broader range of goods and services, such as housing. They should also not be used to pre-empt any future publication of consumer price statistics, because of the differences in methods and sources.
A GEKS-Jevons weekly index has been produced for each of these items. For this release, three weeks of data are available: 16 March to 22 March (week 1), 23 March to 29 March (week 2) and 30 March to 5 April (week 3). More information on retailers and items included within the HDP basket is available in the “Measuring the data” section. This section also includes details on the methods and data sources used for these price indices.
The price change from week 2 to week 3 for each item is presented in Figure 4.
Figure 4 shows that there was a wide range of price movements for items in the HDP basket. At the higher end, prices for pet food and nappies rose by 6.2% and 5.8% respectively over the period from week 2 to week 3, for the retailers sampled. In contrast, prices of rice fell by 11.7%.
Because of the number of retailers sampled for some items, large price movements in a single retailer can contribute to substantial movements at the item level.
Aggregate indices were also produced for all items in the HDP basket, all long-life food items, and all household and hygiene items. These aggregate indices show that overall, online prices of items in the HDP basket have increased by 1.5% over the period for the retailers sampled. For long-life food, and household and hygiene items, prices have remained fairly stable, with overall price increases of 0.8% and 0.7% respectively.
Figure 5 presents price movements for the full three weeks of data for the following:
all HDP items
all long-life food items
all household and hygiene items
cough and cold medication
Movements in the all-HDP items index show a stable increase over time, with an increase of 2.6% since week 1. However, Figure 5 shows that for some items these movements are more volatile. For example, prices for cough and cold medication rose by 10.7% from week 1 to week 2, but fell by 4.6% from week 2 to week 3 (Figure 4), resulting in an overall change from week 1 to week 3 of 5.6%.
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This section discusses the shipping indicators based on counts of all vessels, cargos and tankers up to the week commencing 23 March 2020 for weekly data, and up to 4 April 2020 for daily data.
The data for shipping presented here are not comparable with those given in previous releases because of the addition of Portsmouth and Tyne to the dataset.
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 23 March 2020, the number of unique visits to UK ports fell by 7.3%. Total visits to UK ports decreased by 12.4% in the same period.
Grimsby and Immingham was the port with the highest number of unique visits, with a growth of negative 2.7% in the week commencing 23 March 2020. The number of visits in the same period declined in seven other ports, including London, Southampton and Portsmouth.
We have now started to include daily shipping indicators for the ship visits. We will look to include more daily data in future releases.
These data are available up to 4 April 2020, showing UK total visits for all ships.Back to table of contents
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.
High-demand product (HDP) basket
A HDP basket means everyday essential items that currently have a high consumer demand, including items from food, health and hygiene categories. The selection of these items was based on anecdotal evidence on patterns of consumer spend. The basket does not cover all items within these categories.Back to table of contents
These weekly 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.
Business Impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) Survey
|2 April 2020 Publication||9 April 2020 Publication|
Download this table.xlsx .csv
The indicators and analysis presented in this bulletin are based on responses from the new voluntary fortnightly business survey, which captures business’ views on impact on turnover, workforce prices, trade and business resilience. These data relate to the period 9 March 2020 to 22 March 2020.
The questions for this survey are available in Business Impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) Survey questions: 9 March 2020 to 22 March 2020.
The survey was sent to around 17,800 UK businesses and results presented in this release are based on a limited number of responses, around 25.9% (4,598) of all businesses surveyed who responded. This is an increase of 956 responses from the preliminary results published on 2 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, and the data in the latest period are preliminary.
Caution should be taken when evaluating the impact of measures introduced on 20 March 2020 as the current survey asks businesses for responses for the entire two-week time period.
Online price change for high demand-products (HDPs)
Prices were scraped daily from a number of large online UK retailers (typically supermarkets and other prominent high-street chains with an online presence) over the period 16 March to 5 April 2020 for selected items chosen to form the HDP basket (Table 1). An average weekly price was then calculated for each unique product, with three weeks in total: 16 March to 22 March (week 1), 23 March to 29 March (week 2) and 30 March to 5 April (week 3).
|Long-life food||Household & hygiene products||Health||Other|
|Dried pasta||Antibacterial wipes – hand||Ibuprofen||Pet food|
|Long-life milk||Antibacterial wipes – surface||Paracetamol|
|Pasta sauce||Handwash||Cough and cold Medication|
|Rice||Kitchen rolls||Vitamin C|
|Tinned soup||Toilet rolls|
|Baby food||Spray cleaning products|
Download this table.xlsx .csv
Because of the nature of these data and the impact that daily changes in product availability can have on chain drift within a chained Jevons series (the original intended methodology), we have chosen to apply a GEKS-Jevons index to these data instead. For more information on the GEKS method and our wider research into suitable index methodology for alternative data sources such as web-scraped data, please see our latest project update The winning formula? A framework for choosing an appropriate index method for use on web-scraped and scanner data (PDF, 434KB).
It is not appropriate to compare these movements with the headline CPIH, which is produced using different methods, data and quality thresholds, and incorporates a broader range of goods and services, such as housing.
Strengths and limitations of these data sources and methods are covered in the next section.
OPN – social impact of the coronavirus
The Opinions and Lifestyle Survey (OPN) is a weekly omnibus survey currently being used to collect data on the impact of the coronavirus on day-to-day life in Great Britain.
The sample size for the OPN is 2,010 individuals per week, with a response rate of 79% (or 1,588 individuals) for the survey conducted from 20 to 30 March 2020. The survey is a nationally representative sample for Great Britain and data are collected using an online self-completion questionnaire.
More quality and methodology information on strengths, limitations, appropriate uses, and how the data were created is available in the Opinions and Lifestyle Survey QMI.
A sample of 2,010 households were randomly selected from Wave 3 of the Labour Market Survey (LMS). From each household one adult was selected at random but with unequal probability. Younger people were given higher selection probability than older people because of under-representation in the sample available for the survey.
The responding sample contains 1,588 individuals. Survey weights were applied to make estimates representative of the population.
Weights were first adjusted for non-response and attrition. Subsequently, the weights were calibrated to satisfy population distributions with respect to the following factors: sex by age, region, tenure and highest qualification. For age, sex and region, population totals based on projections of mid-year population estimates for March 2020 were used. The resulting weighted sample is hence representative of the Great Britain adult population by a number of socio-demographic factors and geography.Back to table of contents
Business Impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) data
The data from wave 1 of the new fortnightly Business Impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) Survey (BICS) are based on a final response rate of 25.9% and cover the period 9 March to 22 March 2020, across all business sectors covered by the Monthly Business Survey (including retail sales index and construction).
Real estate services, other services, and mining and quarrying data have been removed from the industry breakdown because of the low numbers of responses but these sectors are included in the industry totals.
The survey is voluntary and the data are businesses’ qualitative responses, which should be treated with caution as results reflect the characteristics of those who responded and not necessarily the wider business population.
The questions used in the survey ask respondents to categorise where turnover, workforce, prices or trade are “usual” for the period. Where these are not, they are asked to categorise if the changes are because of the coronavirus or otherwise.
The survey is designed to give an indication of the impact of the coronavirus on businesses and a timelier estimate than other surveys. These should not be used in place of official statistics for such estimates, but instead they are included to support more timely information on the UK economy.
Online price change for high-demand products (HDP)
It is not appropriate to compare these movements with the headline Consumer Prices Index including owner occupiers’ housing costs (CPIH), which is produced using different methods, data and quality thresholds, and incorporates a broader range of goods and services, such as housing.
There are a number of caveats that should be applied to the data sources and methods used to produce these experimental price indices.
No comparable replacement or quality adjustments have been applied, which may lead to downward bias in the indices.
Because of the nature of web-scraped data, there are no expenditure weights available at the product level. Therefore, there is no accounting for consumer substitution within these items. As we follow the same unique product over time, any substitution towards cheaper or more expensive items will not have an impact on the index, unless these types of products follow a different price change trend.
For retailers that have a clear label indicating that a product is out of stock, we have removed those products from the analysis. However, other retailers may not have a clear indication of this, so there may be products currently out of stock that have still been included.
Limited sample size and daily changes in product availability may result in volatility at the item level.
OPN Survey – social impact of coronavirus (COVID-19)
The main strengths of the Opinions and Lifestyle (OPN) Survey include:
it allows for quick turnaround of data
it meets data needs: the questionnaire is developed with customer consultation and design expertise is applied in the development stages
robust methods are adopted for the survey’s sampling and weighting strategies to limit the impact of bias
it is accurate and reliable; the questionnaire is rigorously tested and the data are quality assured
other strengths can be found in the Quality and Methodology Information.
The main limitations of the OPN include:
the sample size is relatively small: 2,010 individuals per week with fewer completed interviews, meaning that detailed analyses for subnational geographies and other sub-groups are not possible
the mode is online only so the sample may be subject to more bias than usual
Ongoing 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 HDPs 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