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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.

UK Consumer Price Index (CPI)

CPIH image

Main points for August 2021:

  • The Consumer Prices Index including owner occupiers' housing costs (CPIH) rose by 3.0% in the 12 months to August 2021, up from 2.1% in the 12 months to July.
  • The increase of 0.9 percentage points is the largest increase ever recorded in the CPIH National Statistic 12-month inflation rate series, which began in January 2006; however, this is likely to be a temporary change.
  • The largest upward contribution to change is a base effect, because, in part, of discounted restaurant and café prices in August 2020 resulting from the government's Eat Out to Help Out scheme and, to a lesser extent, reductions in Value Added Tax (VAT) across the same sector.
  • The largest upward contribution to the August 2021 CPIH 12-month inflation rate came from transport (0.87 percentage points) with further large upward contributions from restaurants and hotels (0.65 percentage points), housing and household services (0.65 percentage points), and recreation and culture (0.28 percentage points).
  • CPIH increased by 0.6% on the month in August 2021, compared with a fall of 0.3% in August 2020.
  • Restaurants and hotels, recreation and culture, and food and non-alcoholic beverages made the largest upward contributions to the change in the CPIH 12-month inflation rate between July and August 2021.
  • The Consumer Prices Index (CPI) rose by 3.2% in the 12 months to August 2021, up from 2.0% in July: the increase of 1.2 percentage points is the largest ever recorded increase in the CPI National Statistic 12-month inflation rate series, which began in January 1997; this is likely to be a temporary change.

  • On a monthly basis, CPI increased 0.7% in August 2021, compared with a fall of 0.4% in August 2020.

  • Football admissions became available in August 2021, meaning that there are no more CPIH items identified as unavailable because of lockdown restrictions.

Release Date: 15th September 2021
Next Release: 20th October 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 August 2021: 

  • The headline rate of output prices showed positive growth of 5.9% on the year to August 2021, up from 5.1% in July 2021.

  • The headline rate of input prices showed positive growth of 11.0% on the year to August 2021, up from 10.4% in July 2021.

  • Other manufactured products and other produced materials provided the largest upward contribution to the change in the annual rate of output and input inflation respectively.

Release Date: 15th September 2021
Next Release: 20th October 2021

Source: Office for National Statistics

ONS: UK Labour Market

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Main points   

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

  • The number of payroll employees showed another monthly increase, up 241,000 to 29.1 million in August 2021, returning to pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic (February 2020) levels. All regions except London, Scotland and South East are now above pre-pandemic levels.

  • 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 has increased. However, since the end of 2020, both have shown signs of recovery. In the latest period (May to July 2021), there was a quarterly increase in the employment rate of 0.5 percentage points, to 75.2%, and a decrease in the unemployment rate of 0.3 percentage points, to 4.6%. The economic inactivity rate is down 0.3 percentage points on the previous quarter, to 21.1%.

  • Young people (those aged 16 to 24 years) have been particularly affected by the pandemic, with the employment rate decreasing and the unemployment and economic inactivity rates increasing by more than seen for those aged 25 years and over. Over the last quarter, however, there was a strong increase in the employment rate and decrease in the unemployment and inactivity rates for young people.

  • The number of job vacancies in June to August 2021 was 1,034,000, which is the first time vacancies have risen over 1 million since records began, and is now 249,000 above its pre-pandemic January to March 2020 level. Vacancies grew on the quarter in June to August 2021 by 269,300 (35.2%), with all industry sectors increasing their number of vacancies and the majority reaching record levels; the largest increase was seen in accommodation and food service activities, which rose by 57,600 (75.4%)

  • Growth in average total pay (including bonuses) was 8.3% and regular pay (excluding bonuses) was 6.8% among employees for the three months May to July 2021. However, annual growth in average employee pay is being affected by temporary factors that have inflated the increase in the headline growth rate: base effects where the latest months are now compared with low base periods when earnings were first affected by the coronavirus pandemic, and compositional effects where there has been a fall in the number and proportion of lower-paid employee jobs, therefore increasing average earnings.

Publication date: 14th September 2021
Next publication date: 12th October 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 Gross Domestic Product (GDP)

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Main points 

  • Gross domestic product (GDP) is estimated to have grown by 0.1% in July 2021, and remains 2.1% below its pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic level (February 2020).
  • Production output increased by 1.2% in July 2021 and was the main contributor to GDP growth; boosted by the reopening of an oil field production site, which was previously temporarily closed for planned maintenance.
  • Construction contracted for a fourth consecutive month, with output down by 1.6% in July 2021, and is now 1.8% below its pre-pandemic level (February 2020).
  • Services output remained broadly flat in July 2021, and remains 2.1% below its pre-pandemic level (February 2020).
  • Arts, entertainment and recreation activities grew by 9.0%, boosted by sports clubs, amusement parks and festivals, and reflecting the easing of restrictions on social distancing from 19 July 2021.
  • Output in consumer-facing services fell by 0.3% in July 2021, its first fall since January 2021 mainly because of a 2.5% fall in retail sales.

Next Release Date: 13th October 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

BRC - KPMG Retail Sales Monitor

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Now we have passed the comparison period in 2020 that was under strict lockdown, this analysis will return to primarily reporting the sales results on a year-on-year basis. However, for certain measures the two-year comparison will remain useful and will be clearly signposted.

Covering the four weeks 1 – 28 August 2021

  • On a Total basis, sales increased by 3.0% in August, against a growth of 3.9% in the same month last year. 
  • This is below the 3-month average growth of 6.9% and the 12-month average growth of 10.3%.

Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief Executive | British Retail Consortium
“As post-lockdown pent-up demand has softened, the growth in retail sales we have seen over the past few months slowed for August. Nonetheless, we still saw growth above pre-pandemic levels, as people returned to stores in greater numbers. With wedding season in full swing and workers gradually returning to the office, formalwear was a strong performer. Additionally, the bank holiday weekend and back-to-school buzz contributed to a rise in non-food sales. While the online sales growth has begun to slow, it is still high when compared with pre-pandemic growth rates. This demonstrates how the pandemic has shifted the digital-physical shopping balance and increased the linkage between the two channels.”

“With a precarious economic backdrop and retailers grappling with higher costs across the supply chain, the Government needs to deliver on its promise to reduce the burden of business rates that are holding back investment in recovery from the pandemic. If not, we will see the number of shuttered stores continue to rise and more jobs lost. This will seriously impact communities right across the country, and those already most economically deprived will be hit the hardest, putting the levelling up agenda in jeopardy.”

Don Williams, Retail Partner | KPMG
“Much like the summer weather retail performance in August was mixed.  Sales growth on the high street continued to slow, with footfall still below pre-pandemic levels and online sales took a retreat from the highs of last year, whilst some discretionary non-food categories continued their recovery.

“Overall, the high street saw 3% growth, dented by lower food sales growth of 1.9% as consumers enjoyed a fully re-opened hospitality sector.  Online sales fell back by -2.5% compared to August 2020, though online penetration rates remained significantly above pre-pandemic levels, signalling the step up in online shopping is here to stay.  Clothing, footwear and accessories continued their recovery with some healthy sales increases but from a much lower base, whilst technology and furniture/appliance categories suffered against very strong comparatives in 2020. 

“With the retail recovery showing signs of slowing, the sector is expected to grow at a more muted rate as retailers face increasing challenges on a number of fronts. Inflation is expected to accelerate putting pressure on household spending, whilst retailers battle for share of wallet as consumers spend money on leisure, entertainment and travel.  Staffing pressures remain and supply chain issues are being widely reported, with raw material shortages and challenges getting product into the UK and getting goods into customers‘ hands.  This may feed into limited availability of certain products and the spectre of price rises remains. 

“Retailers will be pinning their hopes on a more predictable normal with white collar workers returning to city centres in greater numbers from this month and a buoyant Christmas fuelled by some of the savings that consumers have made over the last 18 months of lockdown and restricted spending.  Nonetheless, successful retailers will have to work very hard to ensure the right availability of the right product to satisfy the requirements of an ever more demanding customer.”

Food & Drink sector performance | Susan Barratt, CEO | IGD
“Food and drink sales in August were broadly flat on 2020’s performance, with some spending switching from retail back into the out-of-home sector. Despite sales being limited by the dull weather, they were supported by staycations and the late summer Bank Holiday, which helped sales show a small amount of growth.

“IGD’s Shopper Confidence Index remained strong, continuing to hit one of the highest levels in the last five years. However, concern around inflation continues, with IGD’s ShopperVista revealing that 79% of shoppers expect food and grocery prices to get more expensive in the year ahead, up from 75% in July ’21. With much of the economy now open, more shoppers are changing what they spend their money on; some 73% have spent more on products and services in August, compared to 69% in June ’21 and 31% are spending more on eating and drinking out, compared to 22% in June ’21.”

Release Date: 7th September 2021 
Next Release Date: 7th October 2021

Source: BRC and KPMG

UK Construction Purchasing Managers' Index (Markit and CIPS)

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Index: 55.2 August 2021
Previous month: 58.7 July 2021

Construction activity rises at softest pace since February

Key findings:

  • New order growth eases to five-month low 
  • All three monitored segments record softer rises in activity 
  • Second-fastest rise in input prices amid severe supply chain disruption

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 September 2021
Next publication date: 4th October 2021

Source: Markit Economics

UK Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (Markit and CIPS)

Markit IHS 150 x 112.jpg

Index: 60.3 August 2021
Previous month: 60.4 July 2021

Rising supply chain constraints lead to slower production growth and rising input prices in August

Key findings:

  • UK Manufacturing PMI at 60.3 in August
  • Output growth slowdown exacerbated by input supply issues 
  • Input cost and selling price inflation remain close to survey records

Publication date: 1st September 2021
Next publication date: 1st October 2021

Source: Markit Economics

Nationwide House Price Index

House Prices

August 2021 Monthly Index*: 494.5 (July 2021: 484.4) 
Monthly Change*: 2.1% (July 2021: -0.6%)
Annual Change to August: 11% (to July 10.5%)
August 2021 Average Price: £248,847 (July £244,229 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 rose to 11.0% from 10.5% in July
  • Prices up 2.1% month-on-month, the second largest gain in 15 years
  • Average house price nudges towards £250k mark

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

“Annual house price growth increased to 11% in August, from 10.5% in July. Prices rose 2.1% in month-on-month terms, after taking account of seasonal effects. House prices are now around 13% higher than when the pandemic began.

“The bounce back in August is surprising because it seemed more likely that the tapering of stamp duty relief in England at the end of June would take some of the heat out of the market. Moreover, the monthly price increase was substantial – at 2.1%, it was the second largest monthly gain in 15 years (after the 2.3% monthly rise recorded in April this year).

“The strength may reflect strong demand from those buying a property priced between £125,000 and £250,000 who are looking to take advantage of the stamp duty relief in place until the end of September, though the maximum savings are substantially lower (£2,500 compared to a maximum saving of £15,000 on a property valued at £500,000 before the stamp duty relief in England tapered).

“Lack of supply is also likely to be a key factor behind August’s price increase, with estate agents reporting low numbers of properties on their books.

Outlook – still clouded

“Underlying demand is likely to remain solid in the near term. Consumer confidence has rebounded in recent months while borrowing costs remain low. This, combined with the lack of supply on the market, suggests continued support for house prices. But, as we look towards the end of the year, the outlook is harder to foresee. Activity will almost inevitably soften for a period after the stamp duty holiday expires at the end of September, given the incentive for people to bring forward their purchases to avoid the additional tax.

“Moreover, underlying demand is likely to soften around the turn of the year if unemployment rises, as most analysts expect, when government support schemes wind down. But even this is far from assured. The labour market has remained remarkably resilient to date and, even if it does weaken, there is scope for shifts in housing preferences as a result of the pandemic to continue to support activity for some time yet."

Source: Nationwide House Price Index

Release Date: 27th August 2021
Next Release Date: 26th September 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.  

GfK Consumer Confidence Index

GfK 150 x 112

Monthly Index: -8 (August 2021)
Previous Month's Index: -7 (July 2021)
Monthly Index Previous Year: -27 (August 2020)
Period: August 2021

Joe Staton, Client Strategy Director GfK, says: “Against a backdrop of cooling headline inflation and soaring house prices, the UK consumer confidence index is stable at minus 8 this August. Importantly, expectations for our personal financial situation for the coming 12 months are holding up and this positivity bodes well for the economy going forwards this year and next. Interestingly, this month the five-point fall in the major purchase index is counterbalanced by the five-point rise in the savings index, suggesting that consumers could be considering switching into saving rather than spending. Indeed, UK consumers have built their savings to record levels during COVID. With the economy continuing to open up and GDP bouncing back, the overall picture for the economic health of the nation is looking good for the remainder of 2021. There are compelling reasons here to be cheerful as we begin to put the hardest pandemic months behind us.”

UK Consumer Confidence Measures – August 2021

The Overall Index Score decreased to -8 in August. Two measures were up in comparison to the July 23rd 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 up one point at 0; this is five points better than August 2020.

The forecast for personal finances over the next 12 months has stayed the same at +11; this is 10 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 one point at -42; this is 20 points higher than in August 2020. 

Expectations for the general economic situation over the coming 12 months have dipped by one point to -6; but this is still 36 points higher than August 2020.

Major Purchase Index

The Major Purchase Index has decreased by five points to -3 in August; this is still 22 points higher than it was this month last year.

Savings Index

The Savings Index is up five points to +25 in August; this is four points higher than this time last year.

Release Date: 20th August 2021
Next Release Date: 20th September 2021  

Source: GfK

ONS: UK Retail Sales

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The ONS has reported on retail sales for July 2021:

Main Points

  • Retail sales volumes fell by 2.5% between June and July 2021; looking more broadly, however, they were up by 5.2% in the three months to July compared with the previous three months and are 5.8% higher than their pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic February 2020 levels.

  • Food store sales volumes fell by 1.5% in July 2021, following an increase in the previous month when sales were positively boosted by the start of the Euro 2020 football championship.

  • Non-food stores reported a fall of 4.4% in sales volumes in July 2021 when compared with June 2021, driven by falls in other stores (negative 10.1%), such as second-hand goods stores and computer and telecoms equipment stores. 

  • Automotive fuel sales volumes fell by 2.9% over the month, its first monthly fall since February 2021; with heavy rainfall in early July impacting road traffic volumes, automotive fuel sales volumes are now 6.7% below their pre-coronavirus pandemic February 2020 levels.

  • The proportion of retail sales online increased to 27.9% in July from 27.1% in June and remains substantially higher than the proportion of online retail spending in February 2020 (pre-coronavirus pandemic) of 19.8%.

Period: July 2021

Publication Date: 20th August 2021
Next Release Date: 17th September 2021

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

Source: Office for National Statistics

Bank of England: Base Rate

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

Release date: 5th August 2021
Next release date: 23rd September 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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