Online sales boomed during the lockdown, helping the UK economy. However, the forced closure of high street stores damaged the retail sector overall.
The total volume of retail sales has recovered close to pre-pandemic levels. This is after falling by the most on record during the first wave.
Supermarket sales have surged with pubs and restaurants closed and people spending less on services during the lockdown. Meanwhile, DIY and gardening spending rose sharply as people spent more time at home.
Clothing sales, on the other hand, have fallen. Many physical shops in town and city centers have been pushed to the brink of collapse as their doors remained closed.
More than 11,000 outlets permanently disappeared from the high streets last year.
UK Suffers Worst Recession in the G7
The UK has one of the highest coronavirus death rates in the world. Also, the UK economy suffered the worst performance among the G7 group of wealthy nations in 2020.
The government entered lockdown later than other countries. It took longer to relax restrictions. Only Spain suffered a sharper decline among EU countries.
The structure of the UK economy, with a greater dependence on social consumption – face-to-face spending in restaurants and shops – was among factors contributing to the bigger decline.
The Treasury has also argued that other countries use a different approach to calculating GDP, resulting in lower figures for the UK. However, economists believe this does not fully account for the UK’s underperformance.
Covid-19 Caused Disease Deaths Since 1918
According to Guardian analysis, more than 150,000 people have died from coronavirus in the UK, far exceeding the worst expectations from a year ago. This is the highest rate of deaths from infectious and parasitic diseases since 1918 during the Spanish flu, the last big pandemic to strike.
New daily coronavirus cases peaked at more than 80,000 in the winter second wave – more than 15 times the peak recorded in the first wave – before gradually falling this spring. More than 30 million people have received the first dose of a Covid vaccine, more than half the adult population, and one of the world’s highest rates.
Travel Plunged During Lockdown
The number of trips taken on UK roads and public transport collapsed during each lockdown, reflecting weaker economic activity as fewer people left home for work or socializing.
Britain’s roads were the quietest since the 1950s in the first wave, reducing pollution levels while cycling boomed. International air passenger arrivals have also collapsed, down 91% in January from a year earlier.
According to Apple mobility data – which records requests made to Apple Maps for directions – driving and public transport use is creeping up again, despite the continued lockdown.
But with many city commuters still working from home, transit levels remain significantly below pre-pandemic levels.
Stock Markets Rally After Worst Crash on Record
Global financial markets were plunged into turmoil last spring as the Covid pandemic brought western capitalism to its knees.
Big landmark moves that typically take years to reach fell like dominos in a matter of hours and days—the FTSE 100 suffering its worst day since Black Monday in 1987.
On Wall Street, the pace of decline of the Dow Jones outstripped the 1929 Wall Street crash’s speed. Global central banks cut interest rates close to zero and pump billions into the financial system using quantitative easing to restore confidence and stabilize the situation. Since then, several big indices have rallied to fresh record highs.
Shares in big US tech firms have soared as the pandemic pushes more activity online, boosting the world’s richest billionaires’ fortunes. However, the FTSE 100 remains about 1,000 points below its pre-pandemic peak.