The UK economy grew above its pre-pandemic levels for the first time in November, supported by growing momentum in all industries before the Omicron coronavirus variant hit the country.
Output rose 0.9 percent between October and November, accelerating sharply from near-stagnation in the previous month, according to the National Statistics Office. This was much higher than the 0.4 percent forecast by economists polled by Reuters.
The rise took gross domestic production, or GDP, to 0.7 percent above its level in February 2020, ahead of the first Covid-19 restrictions, indicating that the economy is fully recovering the land lost during the pandemic has.
All industries grew strongly. The services sector, which accounts for about 80 percent of the economy, expanded by 0.7 percent, supported by a strong performance from the retail sector. Production rose more than expected by 1 percent and construction recovered by 3.5 percent from the contraction in the previous month.
However, the data date before the rise in Covid-19 infections and self-isolation associated with the spread of the Omicron variant.
“November’s rise in GDP is likely to be reversed in December, as Omicron has hit the consumer services sector hard,” said Samuel Tombs, UK chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics.
US chief economist Grant Fitzner said: “The economy grew strongly in the month before Omicron struck with architects, retailers, couriers and accountants having a bumper month.”
He added that construction has also recovered from several weak months as many raw materials have become more readily available.