This page provides commentary and charts on the latest changes in the UK economy, using novel and rapid data sources as well as official statistics.

We explain the reasons behind each change as much as possible, although it can be difficult to separate the impacts of different things such as Brexit and COVID-19.

For an overview of our main economic indicators, visit our dashboard.

This page was last updated at 09:30 on 24 June 2022.

Over 4 in 10 adults (43%) buying less food as costs rise

24 June 2022

The proportion of adults in Great Britain buying less food than usual when shopping is around five times higher than it was last autumn, as the cost of living continues to rise.

Of those asked between 8 and 19 June about their shopping habits in the previous fortnight, over 4 in 10 (43%) said they were buying less food when shopping. This is up from around 1 in 10 (8%) when we first asked in September 2021.

A similar proportion (46%) reported they had to spend more than usual to get what they normally buy when food shopping. This is up from around 2 in 10 (18%) when we first asked in October 2021.

Overall, around 9 in 10 adults (91%) continued to report their cost of living had risen over the last month, up from 62% in November 2021.

The most common reasons were rises in the price of food shopping (93%), gas or electricity bills (86%) or the price of fuel (80%).


Retail sales fell in May 2022 driven by a decline in food sales

24 June 2022

Retail sales volumes fell by 0.5% in May 2022, continuing a downward trend since summer 2021. However, retail sales volumes were 2.6% above their pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) February 2020 levels.

The fall in sales volumes can be attributed to a 1.6% fall in food stores sales volumes, which were 2.4% below pre-coronavirus February 2020 levels. Results from our Opinions and Lifestyle Survey (OPN), covering the period 11 to 22 May 2022, found that this was linked to the impact of rising food prices on the cost of living.

Automotive fuel sales volumes rose by 1.1% in May 2022 , which may be linked to increased hybrid working, as fewer people are working exclusively from home.

Non-food stores sales volumes were were unchanged over the month. Increases in clothing sales volumes were offset by falls in both household goods, such as furniture stores, and department store sales volumes.

Online spending values decreased in May by 1.7% from the previous month, resulting in a fall in the proportion of online sales to 26.6%. Despite the fall, the proportion of online sales remains substantially higher than the 19.7% in February 2020, before the coronavirus pandemic.

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Overseas visits to the UK show signs of bouncing back

24 June 2022

The number of visits to the UK in April 2022 was 27 times higher than in April the previous year, 2.1 million visits.

But those visits to the UK were still down significantly on pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic levels; a drop of 33% from 3.2 million in April 2019.

Provisional passenger traffic data also showed an increase in spending in the UK by overseas visitors. At £1.7 billion, it was 14 times greater than April 2021, when many travel restrictions were in place.

There was also an increase in the number of UK residents travelling overseas in April 2022, 20 times more than in April 2021.

They made 5.6 million visits abroad, spending £4.1 billion. This is a 20-fold increase on April 2021.

The number of visits overseas by UK residents is yet to return to April 2019 levels. In April 2022, there were 5.6 million overseas visits, compared with 8.4 million in April 2019 – a drop of 33%.

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Second highest weekly increase in average gas prices in 2022

23 June 2022

The System Average Price (SAP) of gas increased by 64% in the week to 19 June 2022, the second highest weekly increase this year.

According to data from the National Grid, SAP saw an increase in the most recent week to 35% of the peak level seen on 10 March 2022. This increase is the second highest weekly increase seen this year. The highest increase occurred in the week to 6 March 2022 (66%).

In the week to 19 June 2022, the average SAP of gas rose to 5.4 pence per kilowatt hour. This follows a general decrease in the SAP of gas, and is now at 35% of its peak on 10 March 2022.

These data can be used to understand the general trend of gas prices within the UK, however, they should be treated with caution as these can be subject to extreme within-day trading prices and may skew actual traded prices.

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Record high interest paid on government debt in May 2022

23 June 2022

In May 2022 public sector borrowing – which is the difference between public sector income (including taxes) and public sector spending – was £14.0 billion.

This was £4.0 billion lower than in May 2021 but still £8.5 billion more than in May 2019, before the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Central government receipts were £66.6 billion, £5.7 billion more than in May last year. These include £48.3 billion in taxes and £14.4 billion in compulsory social contributions, which are almost entirely National Insurance payments.

Central government current (or day-to-day) expenditure was £74.0 billion, £2.2 billion less than in May last year, with a £3.1 billion year-on-year increase in debt interest payments being offset by a reduction of £4.9 billion in subsidy payments.

The cost of servicing government debt has increased considerably in recent months as inflation pushes up the interest paid to holders of RPI index- linked gilts.

On an accrued basis, this month saw the third highest interest payment made by central government in any single month and the highest payment made in any May on record. The Office for Budget Responsibility has forecast central government interest payments to reach £19.7 billion in June, substantially more than the previous monthly record of £9.1 billion recorded in June 2021.

The additional borrowing in May has increased the financial year-to-date total to £35.9 billion. Although £6.4 billion less than in the same period last year, borrowing is still £19.8 billion more than in the same period in pre-coronavirus 2019.

The substantial increase in borrowing during the coronavirus pandemic period has led to a sharp increase in public sector net debt. Currently standing at £2.4 trillion (or 95.8% GDP), an increase of £170.1 billion (or 0.5 percentage points) compared with May last year and an increase of £595.9 billion (or 17.2 percentage points) compared with pre-coronavirus May 2019.

Largely as a result of its quantitative easing activity, the Bank of England currently contributes £321.4 billion to public sector net debt. If this Bank of England contribution is excluded, debt at the end of May 2022 reduces to £2,041.8 billion (or around 82.8% of GDP).

• Read our latest bulletin on UK public sector finances

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UK average house prices increased by 12.4% over the year to April 2022

22 June 2022

The UK’s average house price increased by 12.4% over the year to April 2022, up from 9.7% in the year to March 2022. The average UK house price was £281,000 in April 2022, which is £31,000 higher than the same month in 2021.

The temporary changes to Stamp Duty, Land and Buildings Transaction Tax, and Land Transaction Tax may have allowed sellers to request higher prices as buyers’ overall costs were reduced.

As the tax breaks were originally due to conclude at the end of March 2021, it is likely average house prices were slightly inflated that month as buyers rushed to ensure their house purchases completed ahead of this deadline.

An increase in prices since September 2021, when the last of the tax holidays came to an end in England, has resulted in a record average house price level in the UK of £281,000 in April 2022.

While the annual growth rate of 12.4% in April 2022 is the strongest since June 2021, it is worth noting that this may be somewhat attributable to the fall in average house prices in April 2021, following the slightly inflated prices in March 2021 (as a result of the stamp duty changes noted above).

Private rental prices paid by tenants in the UK increased by 2.8% in the 12 months to May 2022, representing the largest annual growth rate since this series began in January 2016.

In the 12 months to May 2022, rental prices for the UK, excluding London, increased by 3.4%, up from an increase of 3.3% in April 2022 . London private rental prices increased by 1.5% in the 12 months to May 2022, up from an increase of 1.1% in April 2022 . This is the strongest annual growth in London since July 2017.

Despite this, London’s rental price growth in May 2022 remains the lowest of any of the English regions. This may have been a reflection of a decrease in demand because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

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