Britain’s coronavirus-ravaged economy shrank 9.9% in 2020, the biggest annual fall in output since modern records began, but avoided heading back towards recession in the final quarter of the year, official figures showed on Friday.
Britain’s gross domestic product (GDP) grew 1.0% between October and December versus the previous quarter, the Office for National Statistics said, compared with forecasts in a Reuters poll of economists for growth of 0.5%.
This makes it unlikely that Britain will see two straight quarters of contraction – the standard definition of recession in Europe – even though the economy is set to shrink sharply in early 2021 due to the effects of a third COVID lockdown.
Britain’s economy suffered a serious shock from the COVID-19 pandemic and the government will do everything it can to protect jobs and businesses, finance minister Rishi Sunak said on Friday after data showed a 9.9% fall in GDP in 2020.
“Today’s figures show that the economy has experienced a serious shock as a result of the pandemic, which has been felt by countries around the world,” he said.
“While there are some positive signs of the economy’s resilience over the winter, we know that the current lockdown continues to have a significant impact on many people and businesses.
“That’s why my focus remains fixed on doing everything we can to protect jobs, businesses and livelihoods.”
Main Photo: A woman walks past a closing down sign at a store in London, Britain. EPA-EFE/ANDY RAIN