Economic activity and social change in the UK, real-time indicators: 23 September 2021

Early experimental data and analysis on economic activity and social change in the UK. These faster indicators are created using rapid response surveys, novel data sources, and experimental methods.

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Corrections

28 September 2021 08:07

Figure 11 has been updated to reflect the correct legends across the relevant data series. Please note that the accompanying dataset download has not changed and remains correct. No other data were affected.

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Notices

23 September 2021

Data for traffic camera activity for the latest week were unavailable at the time of this publication. The dataset will be updated to include the current period in next weeks’ release (30 September 2021).

Cyswllt:
Email Emelia D’Silva-Parker

Dyddiad y datganiad:
23 September 2021

Cyhoeddiad nesaf:
30 September 2021

1. Main points

  • On 17 September 2021, the total volume of online job adverts grew by 3% from the previous week and was at 133% of its February 2020 average level (Adzuna). Section 3.

  • The seven-day average number of UK daily flights was 3,593 in the week ending 19 September 2021, which is 54% of the level seen in the equivalent week of 2019 (EUROCONTROL). Section 4.

  • There were 10,770 compulsory dissolution first gazettes (a notice issued by Companies House indicating their intention to remove a company from the register) in the week to 14 September 2021 (Companies House). Section 5.

  • In the week to 16 September 2021, the aggregate CHAPS-based indicator of credit and debit card purchases decreased by 2 percentage points from the previous week, to 93% of its February 2020 average (Bank of England CHAPS data). Section 6.

  • In the week to 20 September 2021, the seven-day average estimate of UK seated diners was broadly unchanged from the previous week to 123% of the level in the equivalent week of 2019 (OpenTable). Section 7.

  • The proportion of businesses currently trading has remained broadly stable since June 2021 and reached 90% in early September 2021, while the proportion of currently trading businesses whose turnover has not been affected compared to normal expectations has continued to steadily increase, to a high of 53% in late August 2021 (Business Insights and Conditions Survey (BICS). Section 8.

  • In the week to 18 September 2021, overall retail footfall in the UK remained unchanged from the previous week and was at 80% of the level seen in the equivalent week of 2019 (Springboard). Section 9.

  • 88% of adults who left their home reported wearing a face covering in the latest week; this was broadly similar to the previous survey (Opinions and Lifestyle Survey, 8 to 19 September 2021). Section 10.

  • There was an average of 280 daily ship visits in the week to 19 September 2021, an 11% decrease from 316 in the previous week; the average number of daily cargo ship visits fell by 2% (exactEarth). Section 11.

  • The volume of motor vehicle traffic on Monday 20 September 2021 was broadly unchanged from the previous week at 101% of the level seen on the Monday of the first week in February 2020 (Department for Transport). Section 12.

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Results presented in this bulletin are experimental and may be subject to revision.

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2. Latest indicators at a glance

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Notes:
  1. Users should note that the break in the available shipping data (from 14 to 19 June 2021) is when the data collection system changed. See Section 11.
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3. Online job adverts

These figures are experimental estimates of online job adverts provided by Adzuna, an online job search engine, by category, by UK country and English region. The number of job adverts over time is an indicator of the demand for labour. The Adzuna categories used do not correspond to Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) categories, so these values are not directly comparable with the Office for National Statistics (ONS) Vacancy Survey.

Figure 1: The total volume of online job adverts on 17 September 2021 grew by 3% from the previous week, to 133% of its February 2020 average level

Volume of online job adverts by category, index: 100 = February 2020 average, 4 January 2019 to 17 September 2021, non-seasonally adjusted

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Notes:
  1. Further category breakdowns are included in the online job advert estimates dataset and more details on the methodology can be found in Using Adzuna data to derive an indicator of weekly vacancies.

  2. Users should note that week-on-week changes in online job advert volumes are outlined as percentages, rather than as percentage point changes. Percentage change figures quoted in the commentary will therefore not necessarily match the percentage point changes observed in the charts and accompanying dataset.

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According to Adzuna, on 17 September 2021, the total volume of online job adverts in the UK increased by 3% from the previous week (10 September 2021). This was the highest weekly growth since 30 July 2021 when it also grew by 3%.

Of the 28 categories, 23 saw a weekly increase in the number of online job adverts, which was the most categories to see growth in the same week since 2 July 2021 when 23 categories also saw week-on-week increases. In the latest week, there were two categories that were unchanged, while the remaining three saw a weekly decrease. The largest increase was in "transport, logistics and warehouse" which grew by 8% compared with the previous week. Since 12 March 2021, this category has had the highest volume of job adverts relative to its February 2020 pre-pandemic level and is at 352% of this level in the latest week.

The total volume of online job adverts remained substantially above its pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic volume, at 133% of its February 2020 average level. There were five categories which were below their pre-pandemic levels, the lowest of which were "graduate" and "energy, oil and gas", both at 96% of their February 2020 average level.

Job adverts by region

Figure 2: The volume of online job adverts increased in all 12 UK countries and English regions on 17 September when compared with the previous week

Volume of online job adverts by UK countries and English regions, index: 100 = February 2020 average, 4 January 2019 to 17 September 2021, non-seasonally adjusted

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On 17 September 2021, the volume of online job adverts increased in all 12 UK countries and English regions when compared with the previous week (10 September 2021), with the largest weekly growth in Wales and the North East where the increase was 5%. This is the highest weekly growth in Wales since 2 July 2021 when the increase was also 5%, and the highest in the North East since 28 May 2021 when it grew by 6%.

In the latest week, volumes of online job adverts remained above their February 2020 average levels in all UK countries and English regions. The highest of these were in Northern Ireland and the North East, at 182% and 180% of their February 2020 average levels, respectively. In comparison, this was lowest in London and the South East at 116% and 123% in the latest week, respectively.

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4. UK flight data

These data are daily flight figures from the European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation (EUROCONTROL). Daily flight numbers for the UK alongside other countries are available in EUROCONTROL's dashboard. EUROCONTROL is a pan-European, civil-military organisation dedicated to supporting European aviation. Its Aviation Intelligence and Performance Review Unit provides independent collection and validation of air navigation services performance-related data and intelligence gathering.

The flights data include international arrivals and departures to and from the UK (including crown dependencies) and domestic UK flights, but exclude overflights (flights that pass over UK territory). They capture all flight movements that operate under Instrument Flight Rules (IFR), where the pilot uses instruments in the flight deck to control, guide and adjust the plane. This includes commercial flights carrying passengers and cargo as well as non-commercial flights such as private and military flights.

Data from EUROCONTROL do not include information on the volume of passengers or cargo carried on UK flights. Especially in the context of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, flights might not be operating at full capacity and therefore trends in passengers and cargo will differ from trends in flights presented here.

In the week ending 19 September 2021, the seven-day average number of UK daily flights was 3,593, broadly unchanged from the previous week (3,579). The average number of UK daily flights in the latest week was at 54% and 134% of the level seen in the equivalent week of 2019 and 2020, respectively.

The seven-day average number of UK daily flights has increased by 152% from the week ending 23 May 2021, the week that international travel was allowed to resume and the UK government implemented the travel traffic light system (17 May 2021).

The full data time series available for UK flights can be found in the accompanying dataset, which contains daily flight numbers and the rolling seven-day averages.

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5. Companies house data

In collaboration with Companies House, from 16 September 2021, a weekly indicator of the number of company compulsory dissolution first gazettes issued in the UK was introduced. Compulsory dissolution first gazette statistics are a complementary indicator of potential company closure to voluntary dissolution applications and help provide a fuller picture of business demography in the UK.

Companies House paused the issuing of compulsory dissolution first gazettes between 16 March and 10 October 2020, and between 21 January and 8 March 2021. The deadline for companies to supply them with statutory documents for all filing deadlines falling between 27 June 2020 and 5 April 2021 was also extended. To ensure comparability, weekly compulsory dissolution first gazette figures are presented as annual cumulative counts in the real-time indicators bulletin. Users should bear this in mind when comparing cumulative company dissolution figures between years.

More information on compulsory dissolution first gazettes, voluntary dissolution applications and incorporations can be found in the Companies House methodology document.

There were 10,770 compulsory dissolution first gazettes issued in the UK in the week to 14 September 2021, bringing the cumulative total since the start of the year to 354,557. This cumulative annual figure is 32% and 27% higher than the pre-pandemic years of 2018 and 2019, respectively. The recent increases have likely been caused by the ending of legislative easements, whereby companies were granted extensions to filing deadlines.

Company incorporations and voluntary dissolutions applications

Companies House also publish weekly data on voluntary dissolution applications (another type of company closure) and company incorporations. In the week to 17 September 2021, there were 5,218 voluntary dissolution applications, a decrease of 9% from the previous week and a 10% increase from the equivalent week of 2019 (4,727). There were 14,749 company incorporations in the week to 17 September 2021, an increase of 5% from the previous week and a 20% increase from the equivalent week of 2019 (12,302).

See the accompanying dataset.

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6. UK spending on debit and credit cards

Daily CHAPS-based indicator

These data series are experimental faster indicators for estimating UK spending on credit and debit cards. They track the daily CHAPS payments made by credit and debit card payment processors to around 100 major UK retail corporates. These payments are the proceeds of recent credit and debit card transactions made by customers at their stores, both via physical and via online platforms. More information on the indicator is provided in the accompanying methodology article.   

Companies are allocated to one of four categories based on their primary business:   

  • "staples" refers to companies that sell essential goods that households need to purchase, such as food and utilities

  • "work-related" refers to companies providing public transport or selling petrol   

  • "delayable" refers to companies selling goods whose purchase could be delayed, such as clothing or furnishings

  • "social" refers to spending on travel and eating out

Figure 5 shows changes in the value of CHAPS payments received by large UK corporates from their credit and debit card processors, "merchant acquirers".  

In the week to 16 September 2021, the CHAPS-based indicator of credit and debit card purchases in aggregate decreased by 2 percentage points from the previous week to 93% of its February 2020 average level. All spending categories decreased in this latest week:

  • "delayable" decreased by 1 percentage point

  • "staple" decreased by 4 percentage points

  • "work-related" decreased by 2 percentage points

  • "social" decreased by 1 percentage point 

In the latest week, only "work-related" spending was above its February 2020 average level at 115%. A possible recent driver of the “work-related” category is fuel spending. Increased fuel prices have been a factor as well as increased spending in real terms.

Meanwhile, "staple", "social" and "delayable" spending were at 99%, 90% and 85% of their February 2020 average levels, respectively. The recent downward trend in staple spending may reflect lower food spending as a result of substitution away from food and towards services.

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7. OpenTable seated diners

OpenTable is a provider of data for online restaurant reservations, with daily data for the UK, London and Manchester being publicly available in its The state of the industry dashboard. These data show the impact of recent events and restrictions on the hospitality industry using a sample of restaurants on the OpenTable network across all channels, that is, online reservations, phone reservations, and walk-ins.

According to OpenTable, in the week to 20 September 2021, the seven-day average estimate of UK seated diners was broadly unchanged from the previous week at 123% of its level in the equivalent week of 2019, the lowest level since the week ending 26 July 2021.

In the latest week, the seven-day average estimate of seated diners in both Manchester and London increased by 2 percentage points to 130% and 82% of the level seen in the equivalent week of 2019, respectively.

The UK seven-day average estimate of seated diners has remained above the level seen in the equivalent week of 2019 since the week ending 17 May 2021 (following the reopening of indoor hospitality in England on 17 May 2021). In the period since this reopening to the latest week, the average estimate of UK seated diners was 131% of the level seen in the equivalent week of 2019.

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8. Business impacts and insights

Final data for Wave 39 (reference period 23 August to 5 September 2021) of the Business Insights and Conditions Survey (BICS) can be found in Business insights and impacts on the UK economy: 23 September 2021.

The proportion of businesses currently trading has remained broadly stable since June 2021 and reached 90% in early September 2021. The proportion of currently trading businesses whose turnover has not been affected compared to normal expectations has continued to steadily increase, to a high of 53% in late August 2021.

Further information can also be found in the Business insights and impact on the UK economy dataset.

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9. Retail footfall

National footfall figures are supplied by Springboard, a provider of data on customer activity. They measure the following for overall UK retail footfall, as well as by high street, retail park, and shopping centre categories:

  • daily retail footfall as a percentage of its level on the same day of the equivalent week of 2019; for example, Saturday 18 September 2021 is compared with Saturday 14 September 2019
  • total weekly retail footfall as a percentage of its level in the equivalent week of 2019
  • the percentage change in weekly footfall compared with the previous week; for example, Week 37 of 2021 is compared with Week 36 of 2021
  • Springboard's weekly data are defined over a seven-day period running from Sunday to Saturday; Week 37 of 2021 therefore refers to the period Sunday 12 September to Saturday 18 September 2021

Users should note that all quoted figures have been rounded to the nearest integer.

According to Springboard, in the week to 18 September 2021, the volume of overall retail footfall in the UK remained unchanged from the previous week (week to 11 September 2021). This is the first week since the week to 28 August 2021 where the volume of overall retail footfall in the UK has not seen a week-on-week decrease. Shopping centre and high street footfall were both unchanged when compared with the previous week, whereas footfall in retail parks fell by 1% during the same period.

In the latest week to 18 September 2021, overall retail footfall was at 80% of the level seen in the equivalent week of 2019. Comparing retail locations, footfall at retail parks remained the strongest relative to pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic levels, at 95% of its equivalent 2019 level. Meanwhile, the corresponding figures for high streets and shopping centres were both at 76%. Throughout most of the pandemic, footfall at retail parks has consistently been strongest when compared with other retail locations, relative to their 2019 levels.

Regional retail footfall

In the week to 18 September 2021, retail footfall saw week-on-week percentage decreases in 5 out of the 10 UK countries and English regions, the largest of which was in the East of England and the South East of England, where footfall fell by 2% from the previous week. Wales and Scotland saw largest week-on-week increases in footfall, both recording a 3% rise from the previous week; in both locations these increases were driven by increased footfall in in high streets and shopping centres.  

In the same week, relative to the levels seen in the equivalent week of 2019, retail footfall was strongest in the South West at 86%. Greater London and Wales were the retail locations which were above the levels seen in the equivalent week of 2019 at 102% and 103%, respectively. While Wales has the retail location with the highest proportion of footfall relative to the equivalent week in 2019, it also has the lowest relative proportion within shopping centre footfall at 66% of the level seen in the equivalent week of 2019.

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10. Social impact of coronavirus

This section includes some provisional results from the Opinions and Lifestyle Survey (OPN) covering the period 8 to 19 September 2021. The survey went out to 4,994 adults in Great Britain and had a response rate of 72% (3,576 responses). Further information to help understand the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on people, households and communities in Great Britain will be available in Coronavirus and the social impacts on Great Britain, due to be published on 24 September 2021.

The OPN has now moved to a fortnightly data collection. The same information as has been provided previously will be included within the fortnightly release.

Travelling to work

In the period 8 to 19 September 2021, the proportion of working adults in Great Britain who in the past seven days:

  • travelled to work (either exclusively or in combination with working from home) increased by 8 percentage points from the previous period (25 August to 5 September 2021) to 65%
  • worked exclusively from home remained broadly similar (17% in the latest period, 18% in the previous period)
  • neither travelled to work nor worked from home decreased slightly by 3 percentage points (18% in this period, 21% in the previous period).

Shopping

Of the 96% of adults in Great Britain who reported leaving home in the past seven days, the proportion that did so to shop for food and medicine was broadly similar to the previous period's survey at 83%.

The proportion of these adults who shopped for things other than food and medicine in the last seven days was broadly similar to the previous period's survey at 47%.

Face coverings

Of the 96% of adults in Great Britain who reported leaving home in the past seven days, the proportion that did so and reported wearing a face covering was broadly similar to the previous survey at 88%. Further breakdowns such as the situation when a face covering was worn (for example, while shopping) and by country, will be available in Coronavirus and the social impacts on Great Britain due to be published on 24 September 2021.

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11. Shipping

A changeover in the systems used to collect these data has introduced a level shift in the data time series from 14 June 2021 onwards, and users should not make comparisons between data before and after this date. The data produced prior to the change, for 1 April 2019 to 13 June 2021, can still be compared within that period.

A full methodological review of our current method of data collection is underway and data may be subject to revision once this is complete. We will continue to update the accompanying dataset using the current method until the review is complete.

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12. Road traffic in Great Britain

According to Department for Transport (DfT) non-seasonally adjusted road traffic data, the volume of all motor vehicle traffic on Monday 20 September 2021 was broadly unchanged from the previous week at 101% of the level seen on the Monday of the first week in February 2020.

Compared with the previous week (Monday 13 September 2021), traffic volume was unchanged for light vehicle traffic, at 112% of the level in the first week of February 2020. The equivalent figures for heavy goods vehicle and car traffic were both broadly similar to the previous week, at 110% and 97% of the level in the first week of February 2020, respectively.

Further data on traffic volumes as well as data on other modes of transport such as rail and tube are available from DfT.

Figure 11: The volume of motor vehicle traffic on Monday 20 September 2021 was broadly unchanged at 101% of the level seen on the Monday of the first week in February 2020

Daily road traffic index: 100 = same traffic as the equivalent day of the week in the first week of February 2020, 1 March 2020 to 20 September 2021, non-seasonally adjusted

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Notes:
  1. The blue shaded areas refer to periods when restrictions across the UK were in effect.
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The daily DfT estimates are indexed to the first week of February 2020 and the comparison is with the same day of the week. The data provided are useful as an indication of traffic change rather than actual traffic volumes. More information on the methods, quality and economic analysis for these indicators can be found in the DfT methodology article.

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13. Data

UK spending on credit and debit cards  
Dataset | Released 23 September 2021  
Experimental indicator for monitoring UK retail purchases derived from the Bank of England's CHAPS data.

Shipping indicators  
Dataset | Released 23 September 2021
Experimental weekly and daily ship visits dataset covering UK ports.

Traffic camera activity
Dataset | Released 16 September 2021
Experimental daily traffic camera counts data for busyness indices covering the UK.

Online job advert estimates    
Dataset | Released 23 September 2021  
Experimental job advert indices covering the UK online job market.

Company incorporations, voluntary dissolutions and compulsory dissolutions  
Dataset | Released 23 September 2021  
The number of weekly Companies House incorporations, compulsory dissolutions and voluntary dissolution applications accepted.

Daily UK flights  
Dataset | Released 23 September 2021  
Experimental daily UK flight numbers and rolling seven-day average, including flights to, from, and within the UK

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14. Glossary

Faster indicator

A faster indicator provides insights into economic activity using close-to-real-time big data, administrative data sources, rapid response surveys or Experimental Statistics, which represent useful economic and social concepts.

Compulsory dissolutions

A compulsory dissolution is when a company fails to file the required financial accounts and/or confirmation statements, if no contact is received by Companies House following a series of letters to the company and its officers, a first gazette notice is published in the Gazette, a notice of the Registrar's intention to dissolve the company.

Company incorporations

Incorporations are when a company is added to the Companies House register of limited companies. This can also include where an existing business applies to become a limited company, where it was not one before.

Voluntary dissolution applications

A voluntary dissolution application is when a company applies to begin dissolution proceedings. As such, they effectively choose to be removed from the Companies House register. For a company to be eligible to voluntarily dissolve, it should not have completed any trading activity for a period of three months.

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15. Measuring the data

UK coronavirus restrictions

A full overview of coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions for each of the four UK constituent countries can be found here:

These restrictions should be considered when interpreting the data featured throughout this bulletin.

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16. Strengths and limitations

Information on the strengths and limitations of the indicators in this bulletin is available in the Coronavirus and the latest indicators of the UK economy and society methodology.

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Manylion cyswllt ar gyfer y Bwletin ystadegol

Emelia D’Silva-Parker
faster.indicators@ons.gov.uk
Ffôn: +44 1633 455120