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Economic Data

Welcome to the ‘Economic Data’ section of Insight DIY, which includes a summary of all of the key UK economic indicators that you may need to know within your business. Each of these key indicators are updated as and when they are released by their various sources and provide a really valuable addition to any monthly report or business overview.

ONS UK Retail Sales

Retail Sales

The ONS has reported on retail sales for June 2021:

Main Points

  • Retail sales volumes increased by 0.5% between May and June 2021, and were up 9.5% when compared with their pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic February 2020 levels.

  • The largest contribution to the monthly increase in June 2021 came from food stores where sales volumes rose by 4.2%, with anecdotal evidence suggesting these increased sales may be linked with the start of the Euro 2020 football championship.

  • Non-food stores reported a fall of 1.7% in sales volumes in June 2021 when compared with May 2021, driven by falls in household goods stores, such as furniture stores and clothing stores.

  • Automotive fuel sales increased by 2.3% over the month, as people continued to increase their amount of travel; however, they remain 2.1% below their pre-coronavirus pandemic February 2020 levels.

  • The volume of sales for the three months to June 2021 was 12.2% higher than in the previous three months, driven in large part by particularly strong sales in April when non-essential retailing re-opened; strong three-month growth was seen in non-food retailers and automotive fuel sales of 35.8% and 23.6% respectively.

  • The proportion of retail sales conducted online remains substantially higher than before the pandemic, but in June most retail sectors reported a fall in their proportions of online sales as consumers returned to physical stores; the total proportion of sales online decreased to 26.7% in June 2021, down from 28.4% in May 2021.

Period: June 2021

Publication Date: 23rd July 2021
Next Release Date: 20th August 2021

Unless otherwise stated, the estimates in this release are seasonally adjusted.

Source: Office for National Statistics

GfK Consumer Confidence Index

GfK 150 x 112

Monthly Index: -7 (July 2021)
Previous Month's Index: -9 (June 2021)
Monthly Index Previous Year: -27 (July 2020)
Period: July 2021

Joe Staton, Client Strategy Director GfK, says: “Consumer confidence edged ahead of its March 2020 pre-lockdown headline score by two points to -7 in July. This means it has now held firm or improved for six months in a row. Personal finance expectations for the next 12 months remain strong and there’s a dramatic jump this month in our major purchase sub-measure with shoppers agreeing that now is the ‘right time to buy’.

"The healthy seven-point rise in the major purchase measure aligns with strong retail growth figures that reflect the gradual unlocking of the UK high street and release of pent-up demand as Brits hit shops, restaurants and venues. However, threats from increasing consumer price inflation, rising COVID infection figures, and the looming end of furlough and the Job Retention Scheme could put the brakes on this rebound.

"Consumers are aware of these pressures, judging by the latest fall from -2 to -5 in their view of the general economy in the coming 12 months. What happens across the remaining summer months will frame consumer confidence for the rest of 2021 and beyond.”

UK Consumer Confidence Measures – July 2021

The Overall Index Score increased to -7 in July. Two measures were up in comparison to the June 25th announcement, two measures were down and one stayed the same.

Personal Financial Situation

The index measuring changes in personal finances over the last 12 months is down one point at -1; this is three points better than July 2020. 

The forecast for personal finances over the next 12 months has stayed the same at +11; this is 11 points higher than this time last year.

General Economic Situation

The measure for the general economic situation of the country during the last 12 months is up four points at -43; this is 18 points higher than in July 2020.  

Expectations for the general economic situation over the coming 12 months have dropped by three points to -5; but this is still 36 points higher than July 2020.

Major Purchase Index

The Major Purchase Index has increased by seven points to +2 in July; this is 28 points higher than it was this month last year.

Savings Index

he Savings Index is down one point to +20 in July; this is one point lower than this time last year.

Release Date: 25th July 2021
Next Release Date: 23rd July 2021 

Source: GfK

UK Labour Market

Unemployment office

Main points   

The most recent data show the labour market continuing to recover.

  • The number of payroll employees showed another monthly increase, up 356,000 in June 2021 to 28.9 million. However, it remains 206,000 below pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic levels. For the first time since the beginning of the pandemic, some regions are now above pre-pandemic (February 2020) levels. These include North East, North West, East Midlands and Northern Ireland.

  • Following a period of employment growth and low unemployment, since the start of the pandemic, the employment rate has generally decreased, and the unemployment rate increased. However, since the end of 2020 both have shown signs of recovery. In the latest period (March to May 2021), there was an increase in the employment rate of 0.1 percentage points, to 74.8%, and a decrease in the unemployment rate of 0.2 percentage points, to 4.8%. The economic inactivity rate is up 0.1 percentage points on the previous quarter, to 21.3%.

  • With the relaxation of many coronavirus restrictions, total hours worked increased on the quarter, however it is still below pre-pandemic levels. The redundancy rate decreased on the quarter and has returned to pre-pandemic levels.

  • There were 862,000 job vacancies in April to June 2021 – 77,500 above its pre-pandemic level in January to March 2020. All but one industry saw quarterly increases in their number of vacancies. In June 2021, the experimental monthly vacancies data, and the experimental Adzuna online vacancies data both continued to surpass pre-pandemic levels.

  • Growth in average total pay (including bonuses) was 7.3% and regular pay (excluding bonuses) was 6.6% among employees for March to May 2021. However, annual growth in average employee pay is being affected by temporary factors that have inflated the increase in the headline growth rate. These are compositional effects where there has been a fall in the number and proportion of lower-paid employee jobs so increasing average earnings and base effects where the latest months are now compared with the start of the coronavirus pandemic, when earnings were first affected and pushed down.

Publication date: 15th July 2021
Next publication date: 17th August 2021

The level and rate of UK unemployment measured by the Labour Force Survey (LFS) using a definition of unemployment specified by the International Labour Organisation. Unemployed people as those without a job who have been actively seeking work in the past 4 weeks and are available to start work in the next 2 weeks. It also includes those who are out of work but have found a job and are waiting to start it in the next 2 weeks.

Source: Office for National Statistics

UK Consumer Price Index (CPI)

CPIH image

Main points for June 2021:

  • The Consumer Prices Index including owner occupiers’ housing costs (CPIH) rose by 2.4% in the 12 months to June 2021, up from 2.1% in the 12 months to May.

  • The largest upward contribution to the CPIH 12-month inflation rate came from transport (0.80 percentage points).

  • On a monthly basis, CPIH rose by 0.4% in June 2021, compared with a rise of 0.1% in June 2020.

  • Prices for food, second-hand cars, clothing and footwear, eating and drinking out, and motor fuel rose in 2021 but mostly fell in 2020, resulting in the largest upward contributions to the change in the CPIH 12-month inflation rate between May and June 2021.

  • These were partially offset by a large downward contribution from games, toys and hobbies, where prices fell this year but rose a year ago.

  • The Consumer Prices Index (CPI) rose by 2.5% in the 12 months to June 2021, up from 2.1% to May; on a monthly basis, CPI rose by 0.5% in June 2021, compared with a rise of 0.1% in June 2020.

  • The number of CPIH items identified as unavailable in June 2021 fell to 14, mostly relating to international travel, and accounting for 1.3% of the basket by weight; we collected a weighted total of 81.4% of the comparable coverage collected before the first lockdown in 2020 (excluding unavailable items).

Release Date: 14th July 2021
Next Release: 18th August 2021

Price indices, percentage changes and weights for the different measures of consumer price inflation. 

Source: Office for National Statistics

UK Producer Price Inflation (PPI)

Producer Price Index

Main points for June 2021: 

  • The headline rate of output prices showed positive growth of 4.6% on the year to May 2021, up from positive growth of 4.0% in April 2021.

  • The headline rate of input prices showed positive growth of 10.7% on the year to May 2021, up from positive growth of 10.0% in April 2021; this is the highest the rate has been since September 2011.

  • Transport equipment, and metals and non-metallic minerals provided the largest upward contributions to the annual rates of output and input inflation respectively.

Release Date: 14th July 2021
Next Release: 18th August 2021

Source: Office for National Statistics

BRC - KPMG Retail Sales Monitor

Retail Sales image

2020 was a turbulent year in which much of retail bounced between being open and closed, significantly impacting sales and the ability to make meaningful comparisons. In this context, all 2021 figures are compared with 2019 (pre-pandemic). This means our 2021 figures are now year-on-two-years (Yo2Y), rather than year-on-year (YoY). 

Covering the five weeks 30 May – 3 July 2021

  • On a Total basis, sales increased by 13.1 percent in June (Yo2Y), against a decline of 1.3 percent in June 2019 (YoY). This is above the 3-month average growth of 10.4 percent (Yo2Y)

  • UK retail sales increased 17.0 percent on a Like-for-like basis from June 2019, when they had decreased 1.6 percent from the preceding year. Online sales play a far greater role in LFL, so has increased the growth rate significantly.

  • Over the three months to June, In-Store sales of Non-Food items declined 0.1 percent on a Total and increased 47.0 percent on a like-for-like basis. This is worse than the 2019 Total average decline of 3.1 percent. However, for June, the total in-store sales and the like-for-like sales (excluding temporarily closed stores) saw strong growth.
  • Over the three months to June, Food sales increased 7.9 percent on a Total basis and 9.1 percent on a like-for-like basis. This is higher than the 2019 Total average growth of 1.4 percent. For the month of June, Food was in growth year-on-year.
  • Over the three months to June, Non-Food retail sales increased by 12.4 percent on a Total basis and 45.2 percent on a like-for-like basis. This is above the 2019 Total average decline of 1.3 percent. For the month of June, Non-Food was in growth year-on-year.
  • Online Non-Food sales increased by 31.3 percent in June, against a growth of 1.5 percent in June 2019. This is below the 3-mth average of 40.3 percent.
  • Non-Food Online penetration rate decreased from 49.7 percent in June 2020 to 39.3 percent this June.

Helen Dickinson, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium, said:

"The second quarter of 2021 saw exceptional growth as the gradual unlocking of the UK economy encouraged a release of pent-up demand built up over previous lockdowns. In June, while growth in food sales begun to slow, non-food sales were bolstered by growing consumer confidence and the continued unleashing of consumer demand. With many people taking staycations, or cheaper UK-based holidays, many have found they have a little extra to spend at the shops, with strong growth in-store in June. Fashion and footwear did well while the sun was out in the first half of June, while the start of Euro 2020 provided a boost for TVs, snack food and beer.

“Nonetheless, UK retail is still facing strong headwinds with many retailers still making up for ground lost during the previous lockdowns. City centre retailers continue to suffer low footfall and spending as commuters and international tourist numbers remained well below pre-pandemic levels. Consumer comfort with the next stage of the roadmap will be key to the ongoing success of retail. Many customers are looking forward to a return to a more normal shopping experience, while others may be discouraged by the change in face covering rules. The Government will need to reassure the public on safety, while pushing forward with its hugely successful vaccination programme. The public will also need to be understanding of one another during the easing of restrictions; there has been a big rise in violence and abuse against retail workers during the pandemic and colleagues cannot be put in the firing line because of this change in policy."

Paul Martin, UK Head of Retail | KPMG

“Retail sales growth continued in June, albeit at a slower rate as the re-opening of hospitality and leisure sectors led to a dilution in consumer spending.  The fight for share of wallet is underway, as consumers unleash pent up demand for social activities as restrictions in the UK continue to unwind.

“Whilst the high street saw continued growth in June, with sales up 10 percent, online sales fell back by 7 percent compared to June 2020.  However, penetration rates for online sales remain much higher than their pre-pandemic levels, suggesting the shift to online is here to stay.  Sales of men and women’s clothing and footwear have started to recover with double digit growth across all channels, but there were unsurprising declines across those categories which had seen a boom in lockdown, such as technology and home accessories and furnishings.

“Retailers are facing challenges on a number of fronts, particularly convincing consumers that it’s safe to shop in store as restrictions around mask wearing and social distancing come to an end.  With travel now looking to be back on the agenda for summer and Government COVID-19 support packages slowly coming to an end, retailers will be hoping that the feel good factor from Euro 2020 and lifting of COVID-19 restrictions will give the high street the summer boost it needs.”

Food & Drink sector performance | Susan Barratt, CEO | IGD

“The food and drink sector has continued to put in a resilient performance this month; comparisons to 2020 remain challenging thanks to the impact of last year’s lockdown, but sales are still significantly elevated against 2019 levels.

“As restrictions continue to ease, IGD ShopperVista insight signals a return to more established shopping behaviour; one in five (22 percent) of shoppers made more trips to stores in June to buy food and groceries, compared to just 15 percent in May ‘21. As people get out and about more, food-to-go missions are also recovering; 20 percent of shoppers carried out a food-to-go mission on their most recent trip, compared to 16 percent last month. As restrictions are lifted and with the end of the working from home directive, it is likely that we will see food-to-go missions continue to recover and grow.”

Release Date: 13th July 2021 
Next Release Date: 13th August 2021 

Source: BRC and KPMG

UK Gross Domestic Product (GDP)

Gross Domestic Product

Main points 

  • UK gross domestic product (GDP) is estimated to have grown by 0.8% in May 2021, the fourth consecutive month of growth, but remains 3.1% below the pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic levels seen in February 2020.

  • The service sector grew by 0.9% in May 2021 – accommodation and food service activities grew by 37.1% as restaurants and pubs welcomed customers back indoors following the easing of coronavirus restrictions.

  • Output in the production sector returned to growth in May 2021, at 0.8%, mainly because of adverse weather conditions in May boosting output in electricity, gas and air supply.

  • Output in the manufacture of transport equipment fell by 16.5%, its largest fall since April 2020 as microchip shortages disrupted car production.

  • The construction sector contracted for a second consecutive month in May 2021, by 0.8%, but remains 0.3% above its pre-pandemic level in February 2020.

Release Date: 9th July 2021
Next Release Date: 12th August 2021

Preliminary, second and final estimates of GDP released over a quarter as more data becomes available. The final estimate is published in the Quarterly National Accounts. GDP is the main measure of UK economic growth based on the value of goods and services produced during a given period.

Source: Office for National Statistics

UK Construction Purchasing Managers' Index (Markit and CIPS)

Markit IHS 150 x 112.jpg

Index: June 2021
Previous month: 64.2 May 2021

New orders increase at the fastest rate since the survey began in April 1997

Key findings:

  • Rapid rise in new business volumes continues during May 
  • Output growth accelerates to its strongest since September 2014 
  • Cost inflation hits fresh survey-record high

The Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply (CIPS) Construction Purchasing Manager's Index (PMI) is a diffusion index incorporating survey results provided by construction firms throughout the country. A reading above fifty suggests the construction sector is expanding, while a reading below fifty suggests the construction sector is in contraction. Policymakers and traders watch these surveys closely as purchasing managers usually have early access to data about their company’s performance, rather than waiting for the hard data to emerge.

Publication date: 6th July 2021
Next publication date: 

Source: Markit Economics

UK Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (Markit and CIPS)

Markit IHS 150 x 112.jpg

Index: 63.9 - June 2021
Previous month: 65.6 - May 2021

UK Manufacturing PMI surges to record high in May

Key findings:

  • UK Manufacturing PMI at 63.9 in June 
  • Supply-chain stresses lead to record price increases 
  • Robust growth of output, new orders and employment continues

Publication date: 1st July 2021
Next publication date: 2nd August 2021

Source: Markit Economics

Nationwide House Price Index

House Prices

June 2021 Monthly Index*: 486.8 (May 2021: 483.5) 
Monthly Change*: 0.7% (May 2021: +1.7%)
Annual Change to June: 13.4% (to May: 10.9%)
June 2021 Average Price: £245,432 (May: £242,832 not seasonally adjusted)

* Seasonally adjusted figure (note that monthly % changes are revised when seasonal adjustment factors are re-estimated)

Key Findings

  • Annual house price growth rises to 13.4%, the highest level since November 2004
  • Prices up 0.7% month-on-month, after taking account of seasonal factors
  • Northern Ireland sees strongest growth in Q2, Scotland the weakest, closely followed by London

Commenting on the figures, Robert Gardner, Nationwide's Chief Economist, said: 

“Annual house price growth accelerated to 13.4% in June, the highest outturn since November 2004. While the strength is partly due to base effects, with June last year unusually weak due to the first lockdown, the market continues to show significant momentum. Indeed, June saw the third consecutive month-on-month rise (0.7%), after taking account of seasonal effects. Prices in June were almost 5% higher than in March.
“Regional data for the three months to June indicates that all parts of the UK saw an acceleration in annual house price growth. Northern Ireland and Wales saw the largest gains, at 14% and 13.4% respectively in Q2. By contrast Scotland saw the weakest rate of annual growth, at 7.1% closely followed by London at 7.3%. Mortgage payments still affordable - deposit the major hurdle for most first time buyers
“Despite the increase in house prices to new all-time highs, the typical mortgage payment is not high by historic standards compared to take home pay, largely because mortgage rates remain close to all-time lows – in fact, on this measure affordability remains broadly in line with its long run average.

“However, house prices are close to a record high relative to average incomes. This is important because it makes it even harder for prospective first time buyers to raise a deposit. For example, a 10% deposit is over 50% of typical first time buyer’s income. A potential buyer earning the average wage and saving 15% of take home pay would now take five years to raise a 10% deposit."

Source: Nationwide House Price Index

Release Date: 30th June 2021
Next Release Date: 27th July 2021

Nationwide is the world's largest building society and one of the UK's largest mortgage providers. It has the longest unbroken run of house price data, stretching back to 1952 on a quarterly basis and 1991 on a monthly basis.  

Bank of England: Bank Rate

Bank of England logo 150 x 112.jpg

Current bank rate: 0.1%
Previous bank rate: 0.1%

Release date: 24th June 2021
Next release date: 5th August 2021

Source : Bank of England

UK Population Figures

UK Census

UK population: 66,436,000 (mid 2018)
UK population: 66,040,229 (mid 2017)
Percentage change: +0.6%

2018 Data:

Male: 32.8 million (49.4%)
Female: 33.6 million (50.6%)

Estimated population of England: 55,977,000 (84.3% of the UK’s population)
Estimated population of Scotland: 5,438,000 (8.2% of the UK’s population)
Estimated population of Wales: 3,139,000 (4.7% of the UK’s population)
Estimated population of Northern Ireland: 1,882,000 (2.8% of the UK’s population)

Mid-year population estimates relate to the usually resident population. They account for long-term international migrants (people who change their country of usual residence for a period of 12 months or more) but do not account for short-term migrants (people who come to or leave the country for a period of less than 12 months). This approach is consistent with the standard UN definition for population estimates which is based upon the concept of usual residence and includes people who reside, or intend to reside, in the country for at least twelve months, whatever their nationality.

Data last updated: June 2019
Next update: June 2021

Source: ONS


Insight provides a host of information I need on many of our company’s largest customers. I use this information regularly with my team, both at a local level as well as with our other international operations. It’s extremely useful when sharing market intelligence information with our corporate office.

Paul Boyce - European CEO, QEP Ltd.

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