Column chart of UK real GDP, % change compared with previous quarter showing Government restrictions severely curtailed economic activity in the second quarter

UK economic slump worst in Europe in second quarter

The UK economy suffered a bigger slump than any other major European economy in the second-quarter, shrinking by a fifth and falling into its deepest recession on record.

Official data released on Wednesday showed that gross domestic product fell 20.4 per cent quarter on quarter, with widespread contractions across all sectors.

The figures confirm that the pandemic has hit the UK harder than other developed economies. After the second-quarter contraction, the decline in UK GDP since the end of 2019 is double that in the US and second only to Spain among European peers. 

A recovery from the depths of the lockdown gained momentum in June, with output growing 8.7 per cent month on month — faster than most economists had expected, although broadly in line with the Bank of England’s latest predictions.

This means GDP has grown 11.3 per cent since its April low, but remains 17.2 per cent beneath its level in February, before the coronavirus crisis hit.

“The recession brought on by the coronavirus pandemic has led to the biggest fall in quarterly GDP on record,” said Jonathan Athow, ONS deputy national statistician.

“Overall, productivity saw its largest fall in the second quarter since the three-day week,” he added, referring to a measure introduced in 1973.