Economic activity and social change in the UK, real-time indicators: 26 August 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.

This is not the latest release. View latest release

26 August 2021

Next week’s release (2 September 2021) will be reduced to Main points and data only because of the Summer Bank Holiday. The full release will resume as normal from the following week (9 September 2021).

In this release we feature the final weekly data from the Opinions and Lifestyle Survey (OPN). OPN data will not feature in next week’s release as they move to fortnightly collection. Please see Section 9 for more information.

Cyswllt:
Email Andrew Walton

Dyddiad y datganiad:
26 August 2021

Cyhoeddiad nesaf:
2 September 2021

1. Main points

  • In the week ending 22 August 2021, the seven-day average number of UK daily flights was 3,256, a 4% increase from the previous week (3,142) (EUROCONTROL). Section 3.

  • On 20 August 2021, the total volume of online job adverts was broadly similar to the previous week at 128% of its February 2020 average level (Adzuna). Section 4.

  • In the week to 21 August 2021, overall retail footfall in the UK decreased by 2% and was at 80% of the level seen in the equivalent week of 2019 (Springboard). Section 5.

  • In the week to 19 August 2021, the aggregate CHAPS-based indicator of credit and debit card purchases was broadly stable at 1 percentage point below the previous week, and is 94% of its February 2020 average (Bank of England CHAPS data). Section 6.

  • In the week to 23 August 2021, the seven-day average estimate of UK seated diners remained broadly unchanged, 1 percentage point up from the previous week at 134% of the level in the equivalent week of 2019 (OpenTable). Section 7.

  • Of businesses not permanently stopped trading, 18% intend to use increased homeworking as a permanent business model going forward: this has remained generally stable since April 2021 (Business Insights and Conditions Survey (BICS), 9 to 22 August 2021). Section 8.

  • 90% of adults who left their home reported wearing a face covering in the latest week; this was broadly similar to the previous week (Opinions and Lifestyle Survey, 18 to 22 August 2021). Section 9.

  • There was an average of 298 daily ship visits in the week to 22 August 2021, a 3% fall from the previous week; while the average number of daily cargo ship visits also saw a week-on-week fall of 5% (exactEarth). Section 10.

  • The volume of all motor vehicle traffic on Monday 23 August 2021 was again at the level seen in the first week of February 2020; this is broadly similar to the previous six weeks (Department for Transport). Section 11.

  • In the week ending 22 August 2021, the seasonally adjusted average count of traffic camera activity for cars in London was broadly unchanged in comparison with the previous week at 113% of its pre-pandemic level (Transport for London). See the accompanying dataset.

  • There were 12,236 company incorporations in the week to 20 August 2021, this was a decrease of 7% from the previous week and is a similar level to the equivalent week of 2019 (12,179); the large decrease compared with the previous week may be in part attributed to reduced processing activity (Companies House). See the accompanying dataset.

  • There were 4,825 voluntary dissolution applications in the week to 20 August 2021; this was a decrease of 18% from the previous week but is 8% higher than the equivalent week of 2019 (4,462) (Companies House). See the accompanying dataset.

!

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

Nôl i'r tabl cynnwys

2. Latest indicators at a glance

Embed code

Notes:

  1. As part of our regular and ongoing quality assessment of our methods we have introduced improved methods to the weighting of smaller businesses within the Business Insights and Conditions Survey (BICS) sample where we use employment and turnover to do so. In the main, previous findings remain unaffected, there are, however, revisions to estimates for certain variables, including proportion on full or partial furlough.
Nôl i'r tabl cynnwys

3. 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.

These 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 Instrumental 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 22 August 2021, the seven-day average number of UK daily flights was 3,256, a 4% increase from the previous week (3,142). This is the highest weekly average number of UK flights seen since the week ending 22 March 2020 (the day before the first national lockdown was implemented in the UK).

The seven-day average number of UK daily flights has increased by 128% from the week ending 23 May 2021, the week that international travel was allowed to restart and the UK government implemented the travel traffic light system (17 May 2021).

The average number of UK daily flights in the latest week was at 49% of the level seen in the equivalent week of 2019, a slight increase from the previous week. In the latest week, compared with the equivalent week of 2020 (when UK travel corridors were still in place), the seven-day average number of daily flights was at 120% of its 2020 level.

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.

More about economy, business and jobs

Nôl i'r tabl cynnwys

4. Online job adverts

Job adverts by categories

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 2: The total volume of online job adverts was broadly similar to the previous week, at 128% of its February 2020 average level on 20 August 2021

Volume of online job adverts by category, index: 100 = February 2020 average, 4 January 2019 to 20 August 2021, non-seasonally adjusted

Embed code

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.

Download the data

According to Adzuna, on 20 August 2021, the total volume of online job adverts in the UK was broadly similar to the previous week (13 August 2021).

Of the 28 categories, 13 saw a weekly decrease in the number of online job adverts, 5 were unchanged, while the remaining 10 increased when compared with the previous week. The largest weekly increases were in “energy/oil and gas” and “charity/voluntary”, which rose by 12% and 10%, respectively. The largest weekly fall was in “scientific/QA”, which fell by 4%.

The total volume of online job adverts remained substantially above pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic volume, at 128% of its February 2020 average level. The “transport/logistics/warehouse” category remains that with the highest amount of job adverts relative to its February 2020 average pre-pandemic level, at 350%. Since the first week of the year (8 January 2021), this category has increased by 192%.

There are only five categories that are below pre-pandemic levels. The lowest of these is "legal", which fell by 2% from the previous week to 71% of its February 2020 average level. This was the third consecutive week that the “legal” category was the lowest relative to its February 2020 average.

Job adverts by region

Figure 3: Numbers of online job adverts remained higher than their February 2020 average levels across all UK countries and English regions on 20 August 2021

Volume of online job adverts by category, index: 100 = February 2020 average, 4 January 2019 to 20 August 2021, non-seasonally adjusted

Embed code

Download the data

On 20 August 2021, the volume of online job adverts remained broadly unchanged in 8 of the 12 UK countries and English regions when compared with the previous week (13 August 2021). Only London and the North East saw decreases, each falling by 1% from the previous week. Meanwhile, online job adverts in Scotland and Northern Ireland rose by 4% and 1%, respectively.

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 the North East, Northern Ireland and East Midlands at 179%, 163% and 160% of their February 2020 average levels, respectively. The North East has been the region with the highest number of online job adverts relative to its pre-pandemic levels since 9 April 2021.

Meanwhile, relative to February 2020 average levels, the volume of online job adverts on 20 August 2021 remained lowest in London, where the corresponding figure was 103%, down by 1% from the previous week.

Nôl i'r tabl cynnwys

5. Retail footfall

National 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 21 August 2021 is compared with Saturday 17 August 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 33 of 2021 is compared with Week 32 of 2021

  • Springboard's weekly data are defined over a seven-day period running from Sunday to Saturday; Week 33 of 2021 therefore refers to the period Sunday 15 August to Saturday 21 August 2021

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

According to Springboard, in the week to 21 August 2021, the volume of overall retail footfall in the UK decreased slightly by 2% from the previous week (week to 14 August 2021). This is the first week to see a decrease in footfall across the UK since the week to 19 June 2021. However, this follows a gradual upward trend since the lifting of most legal restrictions in England on 19 July 2021 where footfall across the UK increased for six consecutive weeks.

In the latest week, retail footfall decreased slightly across all retail locations. Footfall in high streets saw the greatest decrease of 2%, while footfall in retail parks and shopping centres both saw slight decreases of 1%, compared with the previous week.

In the latest week to 21 August 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 97% of its equivalent 2019 level. Meanwhile, the corresponding figures for shopping centres and high streets were 75% and 74%, respectively. 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

According to Springboard, in the week to 21 August 2021, retail footfall saw week-on-week percentage decreases in 9 of the 10 UK countries and English regions, the largest of which was in Scotland, which fell by 5% over the week. Footfall in Greater London, however, remained unchanged over this period.

In the same week, relative to the levels seen in the equivalent week of 2019, retail footfall continued to be strongest in the South West of England at 85%, followed by the South East of England, the North and Yorkshire, and Wales, where footfall was at 83%, 82% and 82%, respectively. In contrast, retail footfall was weakest in Scotland, Northern Ireland and the East Midlands, all at 76% of the level seen in the equivalent week of 2019.

Nôl i'r tabl cynnwys

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 6 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 19 August 2021, the CHAPS-based indicator of credit and debit card purchases in aggregate was broadly stable at 1 percentage point below the previous week, at 94% of its February 2020 average level. This was driven by small decreases in all spending categories, except “work-related”, which increased by 3 percentage points. “Delayable” and “staple” both fell by 2 percentage points, while “social” fell by 1 percentage point.

In the latest week, only “work-related” spending remained above its February 2020 average levels, at 115%. Conversely, “staple”, “social” and “delayable” spending were at 99%, 91% and 87% of their February 2020 average levels, respectively.

Nôl i'r tabl cynnwys

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 23 August 2021, the seven-day average estimate of UK seated diners remained broadly unchanged when compared with the previous week, at 134% of its level in the equivalent week of 2019. In the period from 19 July 2021 (when most legal restrictions in England were lifted) to the latest week, the seven-day average estimate of UK seated diners has risen by 19 percentage points, from 116% of its level in the equivalent week of 2019, to 134%.

In the latest week, the seven-day average estimate of seated diners in Manchester fell by 13 percentage points to 129% of the level seen in the equivalent week of 2019. This followed an increase of 11 percentage points in the previous week. During the same period, the equivalent figure for London was 87%, an increase of 6 percentage points from the previous week. Both areas have seen notable increases since 19 July 2021, after the easing of most lockdown restrictions in England. Over this period, Manchester has seen a substantial increase of 28 percentage points, meanwhile London saw an increase of 18 percentage points.

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 130% of the level seen in the equivalent week of 2019.

Nôl i'r tabl cynnwys

8. Business impacts and insights

Final data for Wave 37 (reference period 26 July to 8 August 2021) of the Business Impact of COVID-19 Survey (BICS) can be found in Business insights and impacts on the UK economy: 26 August 2021.

Of businesses not permanently stopped trading, 18% intend to use increased homeworking as a permanent business model going forward, this has remained generally stable since April 2021.

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

As previously announced, as part of our regular and ongoing quality assessment of our methods we have introduced improved methods to the weighting of smaller businesses and the weighting method of qualitative questions meaning that estimates for certain variables, including turnover, business resilience and proportion on full or partial furlough, have been revised back to June 2020 – however, the impact for most variables is small.

Nôl i'r tabl cynnwys

9. Social impact of coronavirus

This section includes some provisional results from the Opinions and Lifestyle Survey (OPN) covering the period 18 to 22 August 2021. The survey went out to 4,921 adults in Great Britain and had a response rate of 65% (3,189 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 updated on 27 August 2021.

As we move to a period where restrictions have been lifted across Great Britain, the OPN will now move to a fortnightly data collection. The first fortnightly collection will cover the period 25 August to 5 September, and data will be published on Friday 10 September. As such, there will be no release of the OPN publication on Friday 3 September, and OPN data will not feature in this release on 2 September. The same information as has been provided previously will be included within the fortnightly OPN releases, and will feature fortnightly in this release.

Travelling to work

In the period 18 to 22 August 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) decreased slightly by 5 percentage points from the previous week to 55%

  • worked exclusively from home increased slightly by 3 percentage from the previous week to 21%

  • neither travelled to work nor worked from home increased slightly by 2 percentage points from the previous week to 24%

Shopping

Of the 95% 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 decreased slightly by 2 percentage points from the previous week to 82%.

The proportion of these adults who shopped for things other than food and medicine in the last seven days was unchanged from the previous week at 47%.

Face coverings

Of the 95% 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 week at 90%. 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 to be published on 27 August 2021.

Nôl i'r tabl cynnwys

10. Shipping

In the publication 19 August 2021 we re-introduced the shipping data last released in the bulletin published on 17 June 2021. 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. However, we feel that re-introducing the publication of these data will assist users in understanding the latest shipping movements. 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. The accompanying dataset will continue to be updated using the current method until the review is complete.

Nôl i'r tabl cynnwys

11. 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 23 August 2021 was at 99% of the level seen on the Monday of the first week in February 2020, broadly similar to the previous six weeks.

Compared with the previous week (Monday 16 August 2021), traffic volume was broadly similar for light commercial vehicle, heavy goods vehicle and car vehicle traffic, at 108%, 105% and 96% of the level seen 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 10: The volume of motor vehicle traffic on Monday 23 August 2021 was at 99% of its level in the first week of February 2020, unchanged from the previous week

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 23 August 2021, non-seasonally adjusted

Embed code

Notes:

  1. The blue shaded areas refer to periods when restrictions across the UK were in effect. In order, these were: first national lockdown in the UK (23 March 2020) to easing of restrictions with non-essential shops reopening in England (15 June 2020); second lockdown in England (5 November 2020) to lockdown being replaced with three-tier system in England (2 December 2020); third lockdown announced in Scotland and England (4 January 2021) to "stay at home" restrictions ending in England (29 March 2021).

Download the data

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.

Nôl i'r tabl cynnwys

12. Data

UK spending on credit and debit cards
Dataset | Released 26 August 2021
Experimental indicator for monitoring UK retail purchases derived from the Bank of England's CHAPS data.

Shipping indicators
Dataset | Released 26 August 2021
Experimental weekly and daily ship visits dataset covering UK ports.

Traffic camera activity
Dataset | Released 26 August 2021
Experimental daily traffic camera counts data for busyness indices covering the UK.

Online job advert estimates
Dataset | Released 26 August 2021
Experimental job advert indices covering the UK online job market.

Company incorporations and voluntary dissolutions 
Dataset | Released 26 August 2021
The number of weekly Companies House incorporations and voluntary dissolution applications accepted.

Daily UK flights
Dataset | Released 26 August 2021
Experimental daily UK flight numbers and rolling seven-day average, including flights to, from, and within the UK.

Business insights and impact on the UK economy
Dataset | Released 26 August 2021
Responses from the Business Insights and Conditions Survey (BICS).

Online weekly price changes
Dataset | Released 1 July 2021
Experimental estimates of online price changes for a selection of food and drink products from several large UK retailers.

Nôl i'r tabl cynnwys

13. 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.

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 chose 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.

Nôl i'r tabl cynnwys

14. 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:

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

Nôl i'r tabl cynnwys

15. 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.

Nôl i'r tabl cynnwys

Manylion cyswllt ar gyfer y Bwletin ystadegol

Andrew Walton
faster.indicators@ons.gov.uk
Ffôn: +44 1633 456408