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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.

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: 7th May 2020
Next release date: 18th June 2020

Source : Bank of England

Nationwide House Price Index

House Prices

April Monthly Index*: 433.1 (March 2020: 439.9) 
Monthly Change*: +0.7% (March 2020: +0.8%)
Annual Change to January: +1.9% (December: 2019: +1.4%)
January 2020 Average Price: £215,897 (December 2019: £215,282) (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 edges up to 3.7%, the strongest since February 2017
  • Impact of pandemic will not be fully captured in this month’s data 
  • 0.7% rise month-on-month, after taking account of seasonal factors

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

“Annual house price growth increased to 3% in March, up from 2.3% the previous month - the fastest pace since January 2018 (when annual growth was 3.2%). The last six months have all seen month-on-month increases, after taking account of seasonal effects.

“It is important to note that, while we use a full month’s worth of data to generate the index, the cut-off point is slightly before the end of the month. This means that developments following the UK government’s lockdown will not be reflected in these figures.

“In the opening months of 2020, before the pandemic struck the UK, the housing market had been steadily gathering momentum. Activity levels and price growth were edging up thanks to continued robust labour market conditions, low borrowing costs and a more stable political backdrop following the general election.

“But housing market activity is now grinding to a halt as a result of the measures implemented to control the spread of the virus, and where the government has recommended not entering into housing transactions during this period.

“Indeed, a lack of transactions will make gauging house price trends difficult in the coming months. “The medium-term outlook for the housing market is also highly uncertain, where much will depend on the performance of the wider economy.

“Economic activity is set to contract significantly in the near term as a direct result of the necessary measures adopted to suppress the spread of the virus.

“But the raft of policies adopted to support the economy, including to protect businesses and jobs, to support peoples’ incomes and keep borrowing costs down, should set the stage for a strong rebound once the shock passes, and help limit long-term damage to the economy.

“These same measures should also help ensure the impact on the housing market will ultimately be much less than would normally be associated with an economic shock of this magnitude."

Source: Nationwide House Price Index

Release Date: 3rd February 2020
Next Release Date: 3rd March 2020

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.  

ONS UK Retail Sales

Retail Sales

The ONS has reported on retail sales for the five-week trading period of 1 March to 4 April 2020.

Main points:

  • In March 2020, the monthly retail sales volume fell sharply by 5.1%; the largest fall since the series began as many stores ceased trading from 23 March following official government guidance during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
  • In March 2020, clothing store sales saw a sharp fall when compared with the previous month, at negative 34.8%.
  • Food stores and non-store retailing were the only sectors to show growth in the monthly volume series in March 2020, with food stores seeing the strongest growth on record, at 10.4%.
  • In the three months to March 2020, retail sales volume fell by 1.6% when compared with the previous three months, with strong declines in non-food stores and fuel.
  • Online sales as a proportion of all retailing reached a record high of 22.3% in March 2020 as consumers switched to online purchasing following the pandemic.





Period: March 2020
Publication Date: 24th April 2020
Next Release Date: 22nd May 2020

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

Source: Office for National Statistics

UK Consumer Price Index (CPI)

CPIH image

Main points for March 2020:

  • The Consumer Prices Index including owner occupiers’ housing costs (CPIH) 12-month inflation rate was 1.5% in March 2020, down from 1.7% in February 2020.

  • The largest contribution to the CPIH 12-month inflation rate in March 2020 came from housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels (0.51 percentage points).

  • Falls in the price of motor fuels and clothing resulted in the largest downward contributions to the change in the CPIH 12-month inflation rate between February and March 2020.

  • Rises in air fares produced the largest, partially offsetting, upward contribution to change.

  • The Consumer Prices Index (CPI) 12-month rate was 1.5% in March 2020, down from 1.7% in February.

Release Date: 22nd April 2020
Next Release: 20th May 2020

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 March 2020:

  • The headline rate of output inflation for goods leaving the factory gate was 0.3% on the year to March 2020, down from 0.5% in February 2020.

  • The price for materials and fuels used in the manufacturing process displayed negative growth of 2.9% on the year to March 2020, down from negative growth of 0.2% in February 2020.

  • Petroleum products made the largest downward contribution to the change in the annual rate of output inflation.

  • Crude oil provided the largest downward contribution to the change in the annual rate of input inflation.

  • Crude oil prices have seen a record fall on the month, driven by factors including reduced global demand during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and OPEC+ failing to agree to cut supply.

Release Date: 22nd April 2020
Next Release: 20th May 2020

Source: Office for National Statistics

UK Labour Market

Unemployment office

Unemployment rate: 4.0% (December 2019 to February 2020)
Previous rolling quarter: 3.9% (November 2019 to January 2020)

Main points (December to February 2020) 

The UK employment rate in the three months to February 2020 was estimated at a record high of 76.6%, 0.4 percentage points higher than a year earlier and 0.2 percentage points up on the previous quarter.

The UK unemployment rate for the three months to February 2020 was estimated at 4.0%, largely unchanged compared with a year earlier and 0.1 percentage point higher than the previous quarter.

In real terms (after adjusting for inflation), annual growth is estimated to be 1.2% in total pay and 1.3% in regular pay in the three months to February 2020, both down from a recent peak of 2.0% in the three months to June 2019.

There were an estimated 795,000 vacancies in the UK in January to March 2020; this is 52,000 fewer than a year earlier and 6,000 fewer than the previous quarter.

Publication date: 21st April 2020
Next publication date: 19th May 2020

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

BRC - KPMG Retail Sales Monitor

Retail Sales image

Covering the five weeks 1 March - 4 April 2020

  • On a total basis, sales decreased by 4.3 percent in March, against a decrease of 1.8 percent in March 2019*. This is the worst decline recorded since our monitor began in January 1995, excluding distortions. It is below the 3-month and 12-month average declines of 1.4 percent and 0.6 percent respectively.

  • Sales before and after the lockdown (23rd March) contrasted sharply. In the first three weeks of March, retail sales grew 12 percent on a Total basis but declined 27 percent in the last two weeks of the period.

  • In March, UK retail sales decreased 3.5 percent on a Like-for-like basis from March 2019, when they had decreased 3.5 percent from the preceding year*.

  • Over the three months to March, In-store sales of Non-Food items declined 13.0 percent on a Total and Like-for-like basis. This is worse than the 12-month Total average decline of 6.1 percent and comes as a result of the closure of “non-essential” stores.

  • Over the three months to March, Food sales increased 4.9 percent on a Like-for-like basis and 5.1 percent on a Total basis. This is higher than the 12-month Total average growth of 2.4 percent.

  • Over the three-months to March, Non-Food retail sales decreased by 6.7 percent on a like-for-like and 6.6 percent on a Total basis. This is below the 12-month Total average decline of 3.0 percent. For the month of March, Non-Food was in decline year-on-year.

  • Online Non-Food sales increased by 18.8 percent in March, against a growth of 2.5 percent in March 2019*. This is above the 12-month average growth of 4.4 percent.

  • Non-Food Online penetration rate increased from 29.3 percent in March 2019 to 43.5 percent this March.

* 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

“Retail sales experienced an historic drop in March, with COVID-19 changing the consumer landscape significantly. Lock down has prompted a fundamental rethink of what is deemed essential. Total sales may ‘only’ be down 4.3 percent, but the sharp divide between food and non-food, and between physical and online, is far more drastic. Also, the UK’s closure of non-essential stores only started at the backend of the month, so it’s likely worse data is yet to emerge.

“Staying home has seen a surge in sales of food and drink; computing equipment, toys to keep children entertained, and unsurprisingly health-related goods too. Yet our high streets are completely void of footfall, and non-food categories like fashion have been forced into hibernation. With little alternative for non-essential retail on offer, online penetration has soared to 43.5 percent.

“Non-essential retailers have had to immediately address cash preservation and liquidity, furlough parts of their workforce and understand how to access various government support schemes. Meanwhile, essential retailers have focussed on stabilising their supply chain and product availability, whilst focussing on the safety and welfare of their employees and customers.

“An uncertain future lies ahead and the industry’s reset button has clearly been pressed. Smart retailers will already be thinking about what this means for the future, but the resilience of the sector cannot be underestimated. Likewise, we cannot overlook the huge contribution many retail workers have made to help the nation during the crisis.”

Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief Executive | British Retail Consortium

“In March, the necessary measures to fight the spread of coronavirus led to the worst decline in retail sales on record. Furthermore, the headline figure masked even more dramatic swings: food and essentials faced an unprecedented surge in demand in the early part of March, only to drop significantly into negative growth after the lockdown and introduction of social distancing in stores. The closure of non-essential shops led to deserted high streets and high double-digit declines in sales which even a rise in online shopping could not compensate for. Sales of computers and accessories, board games, and fitness equipment all rose sharply as a result of the move to home-schooling and work-from-home. In contrast, demand for the latest fashion ranges significantly declined.”

“The crisis continues; the retail industry is at the epicentre and the tremors will be felt for a long while yet. Many physical non-food retailers have been forced to shut down entirely or to limit themselves to online only to protect customers and staff. Consequently, hundreds of thousands of jobs at are risk within these companies and their supply chains. At the same time, supermarkets brace themselves for lower sales, while still spending huge sums on protective measures, donating to food banks and hiring tens of thousands of temporary staff. We welcome the Government’s actions to date, yet millions of livelihoods rely on their continued support.”

Note: Retail Sales Monitor first recorded in 1995

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

“UK grocery retailers faced an unprecedented series of challenges in March, and along with suppliers and logistics partners, have been critical to the national response during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, ensuring people have access to food and other essentials as well as supporting vulnerable groups in our society. Shoppers are recognising and appreciating these efforts, with trust in the food industry to support local communities up by 4 percent from February.

“As well as tackling the immediate challenges of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) impacts, retailers need to have an eye on the future. Our data shows a significant decline in shopper financial confidence, with 39 percent expecting to be worse off in the year ahead compared to 27 percent in February, indicating the rest of 2020 may be a bumpy ride for many.”

Release Date: 16th April 2020
Next Release Date: 16th May 2020

Source: BRC

UK Gross Domestic Product (GDP)

Gross Domestic Product

Main points

  • UK GDP grew by 0.1% in the three months to February 2020

  • The services sector was the only positive contribution to GDP growth in the three months to February 2020

  • Rolling three-month growth was 0.1% in the three months to February 2020

  • GDP fell by 0.1% in the month of February 2020

  • The services sector grew by 0.2% in the three months to February 2020

  • Production fell by 0.6% in the three months to February 2020

  • Growth in the construction sector fell by 0.2% in the three months to February 2020

Release Date: 9th April 2020
Next Release Date: 12th May 2020

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: 39.3 March 2020
Previous month: 52.6 February 2020

Construction work declines at the steepest rate since April 2009

Key findings:

  • Rapid falls in construction output and new work in March 
  • Employment drops at fastest pace since September 2010
  • Business expectations slump to weakest since October 2008

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 April 2020
Next publication date: 6th May 2020

Source: Markit Economics

UK Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (Markit and CIPS)

Markit IHS 150 x 112.jpg

Index: 47.8 - March 2020
Previous month: 51.7 - February 2020

Key findings:

  • UK Manufacturing PMI at 47.8 in March (Flash: 48.0)
  • Business optimism slumps to series-record low 
  • Supply chain disruption intensifies

Publication date: 1st April 2020
Next publication date: 1st May 2020

Source: Markit Economics

GfK Consumer Confidence Index

GfK 150 x 112

Monthly Index: -9
Previous Month's Index: -7
Monthly Index Previous Year: -13
Period: March 2019

Joe Staton, Client Strategy Director at GfK says: “Against the threat of a dramatic slowdown in the UK economy due to the spread of Covid-19, the Consumer Confidence Barometer has weakened by two points this month.  Importantly, this research was carried out during the first two-weeks of March, when the coronavirus was headline news but not impacting day-to-day lives of people across all UK nations to the degree we see today.

"After a run of increasingly positive numbers since last December, we’re now seeing very clear disruption. There’s a six-point drop in perceptions of the economy in the coming year, although the view on the next 12 months for personal finances has recorded a softer decrease of three points. The steep eight-point fall in the Major Purchase Index is worrying news for retailers across the land.

"While we have a long way to drop before we match the devastating numbers seen in July 2008, when the Overall Index Score crashed to -39 points, we are likely to suffer further deterioration now that we are in  lock-down in Britain."

UK Consumer Confidence Measures – March 2020

The Overall Index Score in March 2020 is -9. One measure increased, three measures decreased, and one measure remained the same this month.

Personal Financial Situation

The index measuring changes in personal finances during the last 12 months has increased by three points this month to +2; this is two points higher than March 2019.

The forecast for personal finances over the next 12 months has decreased to +3 this month; this is one point higher than March 2019.

General Economic Situation

The measure for the general economic situation of the country during the last 12 months remains the same this month at -23; this is ten points higher than in March 2019.

Expectations for the general economic situation over the next 12 months have decreased six points to -27; this is nine points higher than March 2019.

Major Purchase Index

The Major Purchase Index decreased eight points in March to -2; this is three points lower than it was in March 2019.

Savings Index

The Savings Index decreased ten points this month to +10; this is ten points lower than at this time last year.

Release Date: 31st March 2020
Next Release Date: 30th April 2020

Source: GfK

NHBC - New Build Statistics/New Registrations

NHBC logo 150 x 112

Annual Data For 2019

  • During 2019, the number of NHBC new home registrations (accounting for approximately 80% of all new UK homes) was 161,022 compared to 158,878 in 2018.
  • 112,086 homes were registered in the private sector, compared to 115,584 in the previous year (-3%).
  • 48,936 homes were registered in the affordable sector, compared to 43,294 in the previous year (13%).

November 2019 Monthly Data 

Total Registrations November 2019: 16,175
Total Registrations November 2018: 15,158
Percentage change: +7%

Private Sector November 2019: 10,662
Private Sector November 2018: 11,036

Affordable and Rental Sector November 2019: 5,513
Affordable and Rental Sector November 2018: 4,122

Rolling Quarter Data

Total Registrations (Rolling Qtr September to November 2019): 44,361
Total Registrations (Rolling Qtr September to November 2018): 43,655
Percentage Change: +2%

Private Sector Registrations (Rolling Qtr September to November 2019): 30,416
Private Sector Registrations (Rolling Qtr September 2018 to November 2018): 33,110
Percentage Change: -7%

Affordable and Rental Sector Registrations (Rolling Qtr September to November 2019): 13,945
Affordable and Rental Sector Registrations (Rolling Qtr September to November 2018): 10,918
Percentage Change: +28%

Commenting on the latest figures, NHBC Chief Executive Steve Wood said: “As we near the end of the year, it is good to report resilience in new home numbers, which should give some confidence going into the New Year.

“As ever, construction quality is central to everything NHBC does. We will keep working with the sector to help improve new home quality for the benefit of consumers.”

Release Date: 28th December 2019
Next Release: 31st January 2020

Source: NHBC

NHBC is the leading warranty and insurance provider for new homes in the UK and its registration statistics are a lead indicator for the new homes market.

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


I find the news and articles they publish really useful and enjoy reading their views and commentary on the industry. It's the only source of quality, reliable information on our major customers and it's used regularly by myself and my team.

Simon Fleet - Sales & Marketing Director, Thomas Dudley Ltd

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