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UK economy shrinks record 20.4% in April due to lockdown

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Dion Global

12 Jun 2020

The UK's economy shrank by 20.4 per cent in April, the largest monthly contraction on record, as the UK spent its first full month in lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said on Friday.

The contraction is three times greater than the decline seen during the whole of the 2008 to 2009 economic downturn, the BBC reported.

During the global financial crisis, from the peak in February 2008 to the lowest point of March 2009, a total of 13 months, GDP shrank by 6.9 per cent.

April's unprecedented contraction is three times that.

The ONS also published figures for the three months from February to April, which showed a decline of 10.4 per cent compared with the previous three-month period.

"April's fall in GDP is the biggest the UK has ever seen, more than three times larger than last month and almost 10 times larger than the steepest pre-COVID-19 fall," Jonathan Athow, deputy national statistician for economic statistics at the ONS, told the BBC.

"In April, the economy was around 25 per cent smaller than in February. Virtually all areas of the economy were hit, with pubs, education, health and car sales all giving the biggest contributions to this historic fall."

Carmakers and housebuilders were particularly badly hit, Athow added.

Responding to the development, Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: "In line with many other economies around the world, coronavirus is having a severe impact on our economy.

"The lifelines we"ve provided with our furlough scheme, grants, loans and tax cuts have protected thousands of businesses and millions of jobs - giving us the best chance of recovering quickly as the economy reopens.

"We"ve set out our plan to gradually and safely reopen the economy. Next week, more shops on the High Street will be able to open again as we start to get our lives a little bit more back to normal."