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Revised ONS data reveals greater GDP drop in Q1 2020

The UK’s gross domestic product (GDP) in volume terms fell by 2.2% in Q1 2020, which has been revised downwards by 0.2 percentage points from the Office for National Statisitic’s (ONS) first quarterly estimate.

The ONS said it is the largest fall in UK GDP since Q3 1979, when it also fell by 2.2%. When compared with the same quarter a year ago, UK GDP decreased by 1.7% in Q1 2020, a downward revision of 0.1 percentage points from the previous estimate.

Additionally, the revised data shows a 6.9% decrease in UK GDP in March, down 1.1 percentage points from the ONS’ previous estimate. This was also the month that the virus was declared a global pandemic and the UK lockdown initially came into effect.

The ONS said revised data captures the first direct effects of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, and the government measures taken to reduce transmission of the virus.

It comes after GDP slumped by 20.4% in April 2020, the biggest monthly fall since the ONS’ series began in 1997. The measure also fell by 10.4% in the three months to April as government restrictions on movement “dramatically reduced economic activity”.

Further to this, during the month the services sector fell by 19%, which the ONS said was the “largest monthly fall on record”. The largest driver to this drop was wholesale, retail and motor trades followed by accommodation and food services.

Jonathan Athow, deputy national statistician for economic statistics, said at the time: “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.”

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