COVID-19: Economy grows by 4.8% in second quarter as post-lockdown reopening drives spending spree

The UK economy grew by 4.8% in the second quarter of the year, according to official figures charting the fightback from the last lockdowns imposed on households and businesses to tackle the coronavirus crisis.

The data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) had been expected to show a slowdown in the final month as June was hit by growing numbers of workers forced to self-isolate after being identified as close contacts by the NHS COVID app.

The spread of the Delta variant is likely to have dragged on July’s performance as Test and Trace figures have showed hundreds of thousands being ‘pinged’ on a weekly basis during the month, leading to more widespread disruption and growing complaints from businesses.

But the ONS said growth in gross domestic product (GDP) in June came in at 1% – faster than the 0.6% recorded in May.

The second quarter figure of 4.8% was largely driven by the cautious reopening of the economy in the previous month as the final winter lockdowns eased.

It was aided, the report said, by the return of pupils to schools and a widespread leap in consumer spending as physical shops and pubs reopened their doors to customers outdoors.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said of the performance: “Today’s figures show that our economy is on the mend showing strong signs of recovery, thanks to our Plan for Jobs and successful vaccine programme.

“I know there are still challenges to overcome, but I feel confident in the strength of the UK economy and the resilience of the British people.

“With the fastest quarterly growth rate among the G7 economies we have exceeded expectations, and I’m pleased to see the UK bouncing back.”

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