The coronavirus crisis had a bigger negative effect on the UK retail and transport sectors than previously thought, leaving their contribution to the economy still well below pre-pandemic levels, according to official data.
Research published Monday by the Office for National Statistics It also found that people continued to experience pandemic-related effects on their quality of life, although there was an improvement in 2021.
The findings highlight lingering coronavirus scars that have left the UK economy smaller than before the pandemic and contributed to the £50bn hole in public finances.
UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Chancellor Jeremy Hunt will try to close that gap in the November 17 autumn statement, with more tax increases and a slower-than-expected increase in government spending.
In an article On the latest insights into the pandemic’s effect on the UK economy, ONS officials revised down the performance of some “high-touch” sectors, including transport and retail.
In the second quarter of 2022, the contribution of both sectors to gross domestic product remained more than 10 percent lower than in the last quarter of 2019, before the start of COVID-19.
Overall, the ONS estimated that real GDP, which measures the total value of all goods and services produced in the UK and takes inflation into account, was 0.2% lower in the second quarter compared to levels prior to the pandemic.
According to official figures, the UK is the only G7 country whose economy production is still below 2019 levels
The ONS said a better understanding of dealer profit margins in the retail industry, which were lower than previously thought, had reduced the value added of the entire sector to the broader economy. This is measured by wages and operating profits earned in each sector.
Costs had also risen much more than previously thought in the airline and rail sectors, reducing the value they added.
Other “high-touch” sectors, including recreation, pubs and restaurants, did not suffer from the same problems, the ONS said, as its contribution to the broader economy was revised upwards.
Separately researchThe agency found that people had also felt the long-lasting negative effects of the pandemic, after personal well-being indicators rose in the year to March 2022 but remained below 2019 levels.
The ONS, which has measured “happiness” for a decade, found a sharp drop in life satisfaction and a rise in anxiety during the pandemic. Most measures of happiness had gradually improved by the 2010s.
On a scale of one to 10, the average life satisfaction score in 2021-22 was 7.54. That was an increase on the prior year level of 7.39, but still below the 2019-2020 score of 7.66.
When asked about their anxiety, happiness and feelings that their lives were worth living, people’s scores improved compared to last year, but were still well below pre-Covid levels.
Tim Vizard, research officer at the ONS, said: “While today’s estimates show improvements across the UK, the nation’s well-being is yet to return to the level it was before the pandemic.”