Europeans have begun to return to work, shopping and dining out, suggesting the worst of the economic damage inflicted by coronavirus pandemic lockdowns has passed, but overall activity remains well below normal standards, pointing to the long haul back to recovery the region faces.
The Financial Times reports that data indicators such as mobility and consumer spending suggest that the sharp economic contraction that has gripped major European economies since March began to ease in May and early June.
“There is some evidence that European economies are through the worst of this really sharp fall in output,” said Neil Shearing, group chief economist at Capital Economics who is quoted by the FT. “Things are starting to bottom out . . . but I think the recovery is going to be extremely weak.”
For many economists the data support the view that the pandemic has deepened the divide in economic performance between northern and southern European countries.
Economists also warn that the recovery will be gradual across the region, particularly in countries and sectors where lockdowns were more stringent or hampered by some continuing restrictions, as well as low consumer and business confidence.