Lockdown relief triggers mini-boom in economy with growing demand for shops and restaurants
The easing of the lockdown in England has already caused a partial economic recovery, according to experimental data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
The retail and hospitality sectors have experienced a mini-boom since April 12 as more than half a million workers have been put on leave in anticipation of reopening as part of the second stage of the lockdown roadmap.
Although updated GDP figures will not be released for several weeks, the ONS has released data from real-time sources that indicate the economy is rebounding from the double-dip recession caused by the Covid-19 restrictions introduced in the beginning of this year.
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Figures from the restaurant reservation website OpenTable show that on the day they were allowed to reopen outdoors, attendance was 80% of the equivalent day in 2019 – even though less than half of hospitality businesses had open. During the weekend, it was about two-thirds.
Survey data shows that one-fifth of adults made purchases last week, up from one in seven the week before, as non-essential retailing opened. An index that tracks purchases made on debit and credit cards finds that last week, spending on ‘delayable’ goods – items such as clothes whose purchase is not dependent on time – jumped. 40%.
The proportion of the UK workforce on leave fell from 19 to 17 percent as the April 12 changes approached, suggesting that around 600,000 people have been returned to their jobs.
The volume of traffic on the roads has also increased steadily in recent weeks, according to the Department of Transportation. 55 percent of people have come to work as a sign that employers are reopening after the lockdown or returning staff to their offices.
Jackie Mulligan, a member of the Government’s Main Streets Task Force, said: “The feedback I get after a week of opening shops, pubs and restaurants is that the public has taken pride in Britain’s High Street. People weren’t given the chance to shop so inevitably, which created a surge in demand in the first week, but signs are that it should continue. “
Delia Prudence, owner of The Art Room supplies store in Scarborough, added: “We expected to be busy but not as busy. The boxes have been ringing nonstop since last Monday. A customer even came with a bottle of Prosecco to celebrate our reopening. “