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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.

GfK Consumer Confidence Index

GfK 150 x 112

Monthly Index: -26
Previous Month's Index: -33 (November)
Monthly Index Previous Year: -15 (December 2019)
Period: December 2020

Joe Staton, GfK’s Client Strategy Director, comments:

“Many might be surprised that we are ending 2020 on a much brighter note after a roller-coaster of a year.

“It’s safe to say that consumers are looking for good news and they have found it in the form of the UK’s Covid-19 vaccination programme getting underway, which has lifted the mood pre-Christmas 2020.”

“The 15-point leap in consumer views on the future economy stands out and we have not registered a change of that magnitude for that measure since April/May 2011.

“The renewed expectations on personal finances looking ahead are also welcome, while the six-point uptick in the major purchase Index is good news for online and offline retailers.”

UK Consumer Confidence Measures – December 2020

The Overall Index Score increased seven points to -26 for December. 

Personal Financial Situation

The index measuring changes in personal finances over the last 12 months is up seven points to -9; this is six points lower than December 2019. 

The forecast for personal finances over the next 12 months is up eight points this month at +5; this is the same as December 2019.

General Economic Situation

The measure for the general economic situation of the country during the last 12 months is up to points at -65; this is 34 points lower than in December 2019.  

Expectations for the general economic situation over the coming 12 months are up 15 points at -35; this is seven points lower than December 2019.

Major Purchase Index

The Major Purchase Index has increased by six point to -22 in December; this is 25 points lower than it was in December 2019.

Savings Index

The Savings Index has increased by six points to +17 in December; this is one point lower than this time last year.

Release Date: 20th December 2020
Next Release Date: 20th January 2021

Source: GfK

ONS UK Retail Sales

Retail Sales

The ONS has reported on retail sales for four-week period from 1 November 2020 to 28 November 2020. 

Main points:

  • In November 2020, retail sales volumes decreased by 3.8% when compared with October as many stores ceased trading following government guidance during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Despite the monthly fall, overall sales remain above their pre-pandemic levels.

  • In November 2020, clothing store sales saw a sharp fall in sale volumes when compared with the previous month, at negative 19.0%, as did fuel sales, which decreased by 16.6%.

  • In November 2020, food stores at 3.1% and household goods stores at 1.6% were the only sectors to show growth in monthly volume of sales.

  • The year-on-year growth rate in the volume of retail sales increased by 2.4%, with feedback from businesses suggesting that consumers had brought forward Christmas spending.

  • Online retailing accounted for 31.4% of total retailing compared with 28.6% in October 2020, with an overall growth of 74.7% in the value of sales when compared with November 2019. 

Period: November 2020

Publication Date: 18th December 2020
Next Release Date: 22nd January 2021

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

Source: Office for National Statistics

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: 17th December 2020
Next release date: 4th February 2021

Source : Bank of England

UK Consumer Price Index (CPI)

CPIH image

Main points for November 2020:

  • The Consumer Prices Index including owner occupiers’ housing costs (CPIH) 12-month inflation rate was 0.6% in November 2020, down from 0.9% in October 2020.

  • The largest contribution to the CPIH 12-month inflation rate in November 2020 came from recreation and culture (0.24 percentage points).

  • Falling prices for clothing, and food and non-alcoholic beverages resulted in the largest downward contributions (of 0.17 and 0.09 percentage points respectively) to the change in the CPIH 12-month inflation rate between October and November 2020.

  • These were partially offset by upward contributions from games, toys and hobbies, and accommodation services.
  • As a result of the increased restrictions caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 72 CPIH items were identified as unavailable in November, accounting for 13.9% of the basket by weight; the number has increased from eight in October but is down from 90 in April, the first full month of lockdown; for November, we collected a weighted total of 83.8% of comparable coverage collected before the first lockdown (excluding unavailable items).

  • The Consumer Prices Index (CPI) 12-month rate was 0.3% in November 2020, down from 0.7% in October.

Release Date: 16th December 2020
Next Release: 20th January 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 November 2020: 

  • The headline rate of output inflation for goods leaving the factory gate was negative 0.8% on the year to November 2020, up from negative growth of 1.4% in October 2020.

  • The price for materials and fuels used in the manufacturing process showed negative growth of 0.5% on the year to November 2020, up from negative growth of 1.2% in October 2020.

  • Petroleum products and crude oil were the largest downward contributors to the annual rates of output inflation and input inflation respectively.

  • The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has released a public statement on the coronavirus (COVID-19) and production of statistics; Section 8: Strengths and limitations describes the situation in relation to producer price inflation (PPI).

  • This is the second publication of producer price inflation using an annual chain-linked methodology; the headline indices are now published on a gross sector basis; more details on the impact of these improvements can be found in the article Impact of methodological improvements on PPI, which was released on 11 November 2020. 

Release Date: 16th December 2020
Next Release: 20th January 2021

Source: Office for National Statistics

UK Labour Market

Unemployment office

Main points  


  • The UK employment rate, in the three months to October 2020, was estimated at 75.2%, 0.9 percentage points lower than a year earlier and 0.5 percentage points lower than the previous quarter.
  • The UK unemployment rate, in the three months to October 2020, was estimated at 4.9%, 1.2 percentage points higher than a year earlier and 0.7 percentage points higher than the previous quarter.
  • Redundancies reached a record high of 370,000 in the three months to October 2020, an increase of a record 217,000 on the quarter, although the number of redundancies fell slightly in October 2020.

  • Early estimates for November 2020 indicate that the number of payrolled employees fell by 2.7% compared with November 2019, which is a fall of 781,000 employees; since February 2020, 819,000 fewer people were in payrolled employment.
  • The Claimant Count increased slightly in November 2020, to 2.7 million; this includes both those working with low income or hours and those who are not working.

  • There were an estimated 547,000 vacancies in the UK in September to November 2020; this is 251,000 fewer than a year ago and 110,000 more than the previous quarter.
  • Growth in average total pay (including bonuses) among employees for the three months August to October 2020 increased to 2.7%, and growth in regular pay (excluding bonuses) also increased to 2.8%.

Publication date: 15th December 2020
Next publication date: 26th January 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)

Gross Domestic Product

Main points

  • UK GDP grew by 0.4% in October 2020

  • In October, monthly GDP grew by 0.4%, however, it remains 7.9% lower than the levels seen in February 2020

  • The services sector grew by 0.2% in October 2020, however, it remains 8.6% lower than the level in February 2020

  • The production sector grew by 1.3% in October 2020, however, it remains 4.4% lower than the level in February 2020

  • The construction sector grew by 1.0% in October, however, it remains 6.4% lower than the level in February 2020

Release Date: 10th December 2020
Next Release Date: 15th January 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

Retail Sales image

Covering the four weeks 1 – 28 November 2020:

  • On a Total basis, sales increased by 0.9% in November, against a decline of 0.9% in November 2019*. It is below the 3-month average growth of 3.9% and above the 12m average decline of 0.3%.
  • UK retail sales increased 7.7% on a Like-for-like basis from November 2019, when they had decreased 1.3% from the preceding year*. In November, Like-for-like has been measured EXCLUDING temporarily closed stores but including Online sales.
  • Over the three months to November, In-Store sales of Non-Food items declined 18.6% on a Total and 10.8% on a Like-for-like basis. This is better than the 12-month Total average decline of 21.7%. For November, the like-for-like excluding temporarily closed stores remained in decline.
  • Over the three months to November, Food sales increased 6.4% on a Like-for-like basis and 7.0% on a Total basis. This is higher than the 12-month Total average growth of 4.8%. For the month of November, Food was in growth year-on-year.
  • Over the three-months to November, Non-Food retail sales increased by 6.4% on a like-for-like basis and 1.3% on a Total basis. This is above the 12-month Total average decline of 4.5%. For the month of November, Non-Food was in decline year-on-year.
  • Online Non-Food sales increased by 47.2% in November, against a growth of 0.3% in November 2019*. This is above the 3-mth average of 40.6% and the 12-mth average of 33.2%.
  • Non-Food Online penetration rate increased from 33.2% in November 2019 to 59.3% this November.

* Note 2020 is a 53-week year in the ONS calendar: as a result of the extra week in January 2020, the comparable 2019 performances cited here may differ from those published last year, due to the one-week shift in the comparison.

Paul Martin, UK head of retail | KPMG

“Despite the on-going unprecedented environment, UK retail fought hard during November to win growth on last year.  It was a tale of two channels however, as lockdown resulted in a dismal performance for high street retailers, whilst online sales rose by impressive double figures across most categories.

“The gap between winners and losers continues with home focused items such as technology and household appliances putting in a very strong performance, whilst fashion sales fell away at a significant level.  The evolution of Black Friday from a day to now spanning multiple weeks, has further distorted trading patterns and will have likely brought Christmas purchases forward. Despite this, high street retailers will still be hoping that consumers will be pounding the pavements in the coming weeks as they battle hard to make up for lost ground in this crucial time.

”The arrival of a vaccine programme will help to boost consumer confidence, but conditions are likely to remain challenging for the immediate future and retailers will need to fight hard in the January sales for every penny in consumers’ pockets.”

Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief Executive | British Retail Consortium

“November saw the brakes put on the sales growth that had been seen over the previous three months. In-store non-food sales saw a significant decline as a result of the lockdown in England, however some retailers were able offset a proportion of lost sales through greater online and click-and-collect sales, ensuring they could still serve their customers. Extended discount periods helped spread demand and offered customers great deals on gifts including the latest gaming consoles, other electronics and home accessories. However, the disparity between online and in-store non-food sales widened, with the highest online penetration rate since May. Non-food stores once again experienced double-digit decline as tighter restrictions were bought in across England.

“Despite sales remaining positive overall, parts of the industry continue to suffer. After two periods of prolonged closure, and continued low footfall in towns and city centres, many retailers face the stark reality of further job losses and store closures as a result of mounting rent bills and a return to full business rates liability from next April. Government should extend the moratorium on debt enforcement and target those retailers who have been hardest hit by the pandemic with further business rates relief beyond April 2021.”

Susan Barratt, CEO | IGD

“With much of the UK in lockdown and many out-of-home channels shut, food and grocery sales put in another strong performance in November. The week-on-week uptick in sales in the second half of November looks like the conventional seasonal shopping build-up with the expectation of sales growing sharply at some stage in December. However, as we move out of national lockdown and to stricter regional tiers, retailers are having to plan for a very different Christmas this year.

“Despite the national lockdown in England, IGD’s Shopper Confidence Index rebounded in November, boosted by the prospect of new vaccines for COVID-19, earlier than normal Christmas shopping and the extension of the furlough scheme. Beyond the Christmas trading period, confidence is likely to be fragile as the UK leaves the EU and more shoppers feel the impact of the economic downturn.”

Release Date: 8th December 2020
Next Release Date: 11th January 2021

Source: BRC

UK Construction Purchasing Managers' Index (Markit and CIPS)

Markit IHS 150 x 112.jpg

Index: 54.7 November 2020
Previous month: 53.1 October 2020

Stronger construction sector growth led by fastest rise in new orders since October 2014

Key findings:

  • House building remains the best-performing category 
  • New order growth highest for just over six years
  • Stretched supply chains lead to rising costs in November

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: 4th December 2020
Next publication date: 5th January 2021

Source: Markit Economics

UK Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (Markit and CIPS)

Markit IHS 150 x 112.jpg

Index: 55.6 - November 2020
Previous month: 53.7 - October 2020

Key findings:

  • UK Manufacturing PMI at 55.6 in November (Flash: 55.2) 
  • Output growth accelerates 
  • 'Brexit-buying' leads to higher purchasing, stocks and exports

Publication date: 1st December 2020
Next publication date: 4th January 2021

Source: Markit Economics

Nationwide House Price Index

House Prices

November Monthly Index*: 457.8 (October 2020: 453.9) 
Monthly Change*: 0.9% (October 2020: 0.8%)
Annual Change to November: 6.5% (to October: 5.8%)
November 2020 Average Price: £229,721 (October 2020: £227,826) (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 6.5% in November, the highest rate since Jan 2015 
  • Prices up 0.9% month-on-month, after taking account of seasonal factors

Commenting on the figures, Robert Gardner, Nationwide's Chief Economist, said: “Annual house price growth accelerated from 5.8% in October to 6.5% in November – the highest outturn since January 2015. House prices rose by 0.9% month-on-month in November after taking account of seasonal effects, following a 0.8% rise in October.

“Data suggests that the economic recovery had lost momentum even before the latest lockdown came into effect. Economic growth slowed sharply from 6.3% in the month of July to 2.2% in August and 1.1% in September, even though the economy was still around 8% smaller than its prepandemic level at that point. Rising infection rates and tighter social restrictions will have resulted in a further hit to growth in October and November.

“Labour market conditions also weakened with the unemployment rate rising to 4.8% in the three months to September – still low by historic standards, but up from an average of 3.8% in 2019. The extension of the furlough scheme to March 2021 will help limit job losses in the short term by enabling firms to retain more staff that they would have done otherwise. “Despite these headwinds, housing market activity has remained robust. October saw property transactions rise to 105,600, the highest level since 2016, while mortgage approvals for house purchase in the same month were at their highest level since 2007 at c97,500.

“The outlook remains highly uncertain and will depend heavily on how the pandemic and the measures to contain it evolve as well as the efficacy of policy measures implemented to limit the damage to the wider economy. Behavioural shifts as a result of Covid-19 may provide support for housing market activity, while the stamp duty holiday will continue to provide a near term boost by bringing purchases forward. “However, housing market activity is likely to slow in the coming quarters, perhaps sharply, if the labour market weakens as most analysts expect, especially once the stamp duty holiday expires at the end of March"

Source: Nationwide House Price Index

Release Date: 30th November 2020
Next Release Date: 5th January 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.  

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 2020

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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