Official figures reveal that the UK economy experienced a more substantial growth than anticipated in June, thanks to a period of warm weather that had a positive impact on various sectors.
The hospitality industry, including pubs and restaurants, along with the construction sector, witnessed a boost in activity due to the higher temperatures. As a result, the economy grew by 0.5%, surpassing expectations.
This improved economic performance translated into a 0.2% expansion between April and June, attributed in part to the favorable weather conditions.
However, the month of June also saw strikes by NHS workers, which exerted a negative influence on overall output. Additionally, concerns about the UK’s long-term economic growth and the possibility of a recession continue to linger.
Darren Morgan, the Director of Economic Statistics at the Office for National Statistics (ONS) – the entity responsible for releasing this data – pointed out three key factors that impacted the UK’s economic situation in June. These factors were the number of working days, weather conditions, and industrial action.
Morgan noted that while the economy rebounded from the extra Bank Holiday in May, the manufacturing sector, particularly the automobile industry, displayed robust performance. The services sector also had a strong showing, with publishing, car sales, and legal services contributing positively. However, this positive momentum was offset by declines in the health sector, which faced the consequences of ongoing strike actions.
Although the growth experienced in June exceeded expectations, the UK remains the sole G7 nation yet to attain pre-Covid levels of gross domestic product (GDP) as per the most recent quarterly data.
James Smith, Research Director at the Resolution Foundation think tank, highlighted that the growth of 0.2% between April and June showcases the UK’s “comparative resilience.” The UK managed to avoid a recession by expanding its economy by 0.1% in the first quarter of the year. A recession is typically defined as two consecutive quarters of economic contraction.
Smith emphasized that even though the UK averted a downturn, many people may perceive the current economic conditions as recession-like, as households grapple with rising essential costs and increased mortgage payments.
Reflecting on the situation, Phil Simpson, the Managing Director of Lancaster Brewery, which operates venues in south Cumbria and north Lancashire, expressed that his two decades in business have not exposed him to an environment quite like the present one.
Simpson stated, “It’s challenging… We emerged from the challenges posed by Covid, only to enter a deeply challenging world. While it’s an improvement from the Covid era, it’s only a marginal one.”
Although the company’s sales have risen approximately 9% compared to the previous year, higher operating costs due to inflation have squeezed its profits.