UK economy grew by record 15.5% over the summer before new COVID-19 restrictions were imposed

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By Euronews
Shoppers walk past a shop window in Oxford Street, London, Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020.
Shoppers walk past a shop window in Oxford Street, London, Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020.   -  Copyright  AP Photo/Frank Augstein

Britain's economy rebounded by a record 15.5 per cent over the summer but remains significantly weaker than before the pandemic, official figures show.

According to preliminary figures released on Thursday by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the 15.5 per cent rebound observed in the three months to September was the largest leap recorded since records began in 1955.

It also means that Britain has exited its recession following a record 19.8 per cent dive in the second quarter.

But despite the massive rebound, the economy remains 8.2 per cent below the levels seen in February 2020, before the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic started being felt, the ONS noted.

The record quarterly rise was attributed to the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions from June onwards but monthly data reveal trouble lurks ahead.

Although the economy grew for a fifth month in a row, the rate of growth has continued its decline from the June peak with a 1.1 per cent rise in September.

That slowdown was recorded before new restrictions to fight a second wave of the pandemic were announced.

In mid-October, the government unveiled a multi-tier system to combat the epidemic which led to the imposition of tough restrictions in several big cities including Liverpool and Manchester. This was followed by the introduction of a second national lockdown last week.

The ONS said that in one of its surveys carried out between October 5 and 18, 45 per cent of businesses currently trading reported that their turnover had decreased below what is normally expected for October.