ONS: Sunshine grows UK GDP



Liz Cameron

UK GDP grew by 0.4 per cent in the second quarter, driven mainly by growth in services, and a positive contribution from construction.

The UK picked up in the three months to June was driven by the warmer weather, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The economy growth of 0.4 per cent in the period compared with a rate of 0.2 per cent in the first quarter of the year.

However, the ONS stressed that underlying growth remained “modest”.

The ONS also said that the UK economy grew by 0.1 per cent in June, down from a more robust 0.3 per cent in the previous month.

Head of National Accounts Rob Kent-Smith said: “The economy picked up a little in the second quarter with both retail sales and construction helped by the good weather and rebounding from the effects of the snow earlier in the year. However, manufacturing continued to fall back from its high point at the end of last year and underlying growth remained modest by historical standards.

“The UK’s trade deficit noticeably worsened as exports of cars and planes declined sharply while imports rose.”

Commenting on the figures, Liz Cameron, chief executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said: “It’s encouraging to see an upswing in quarterly GDP growth given the challenging first quarter experienced by many firms, particularly in the construction sector. It’s also positive to see rolling quarterly growth strengthen from the flat figures observed earlier in the year.   However, by historical standards, growth remains somewhat muted.

“This set of quarterly data has illustrated some of the current challenges in the manufacturing industry, with the data highlighting a concerning decline in the UK’s exports of cars and aircraft.   It’s disappointing and should act as a red alert to see declines in these industries alongside a widening trade deficit.

“Fundamentally, one of the key factors which has influenced performance across a range of sectors in the first half of the year is the weather, which has benefitted the retail sector in particular over this quarter. The stable weather also allowed for stronger growth in the construction sector, which was negatively affected by the exceptional weather conditions in early 2018.

“The economic trends here simply reinforce the need for the UK’s respective Governments to work in partnership with the private sector to increase the exporting ambitions of our firms.   We can’t control the weather, but we can act to grow the confidence and ability of firms to engage in international trade, which will act to insulate our economy from chilly domestic conditions.”