Index of Services, UK: December 2019

Monthly movements in output for the services industries.

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Email Mark Stephens

Dyddiad y datganiad:
11 February 2020

Cyhoeddiad nesaf:
11 March 2020

1. Main points

  • In Quarter 4 (Oct to Dec) 2019 services output increased by 0.1% compared with Quarter 3 (July to Sept) 2019.

  • Education, human health and social work and real estate activities made the largest contribution to this growth, each contributing 0.05 percentage points.

  • The Index of Services increased by 0.3% between November 2019 and December 2019, almost entirely reversing the decline in November.

  • The information and communication sector was the largest driver of growth, contributing 0.14 percentage points.

  • Services output increased by 1.3% between the fourth quarter of 2018 and the fourth quarter of 2019.

  • In the 12 months to December 2019 compared with the previous 12 months, services output grew by 1.8%.

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2. Quarterly growth

In Quarter 4 (Oct to Dec), services output increased by 0.1% compared with Quarter 3 (July to Sept). The 0.1% quarterly growth is the weakest since Quarter 2 (Apr to June) 2016 when the growth was also 0.1% (Figure 2).

Education, human health and social work and real estate activities were the largest contributing sectors to growth each contributing 0.05 percentage points.

In wholesale and retail trade, retail trade was the only negative contributor, falling by 1%; this is the largest decline in this industry since Quarter 4 2010 when it also fell by 1%, for more information please see Retail sales, Great Britain: December 2019.

Of the 14 sectors, six saw growth in Quarter 4, with six sectors showing a decrease, and two remained flat. Positive growth and negative growth almost wholly offset each other.

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3. Month-on-month services growth

Services output increased by 0.3% in December 2019, almost entirely reversing the negative growth of 0.4% in November 2019.

Index of Services (IoS) growth has been subdued through 2019 (Figure 3). Care should be taken when using the month-on-month growth rates as data can be volatile.

The three largest contributors to the monthly growth were: information and communication, financial and insurance activities and transportation and storage. All three sectors growths follow declines in November.

The wholesale, motor and retail trade and arts, entertainment and recreation sectors gave the only negative contributions to growth. In wholesale, retail trade both wholesale trade except for motor vehicles and retail trade contributed negatively. For more information on retail trade please see Retail sales, Great Britain: December 2019. In the arts, entertainment and recreation sector sports activities gave the largest negative contribution declining 2.8%.

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4. Quarter 4 (Oct to Dec) 2019 compared with Quarter 4 2018

In Quarter 4 (Oct to Dec) 2019, services output increased by 1.3% compared with Quarter 4 2018, continuing the weakness throughout 2019. More information around the slowdown in three monthly growth compared with the previous year is given in Index of Services, UK: November 2019 (Figure 4).

Of the 14 sectors 10 have grown since Quarter 4 2018. Four sectors declined: financial and insurance activities, activities as households as employers, accommodation and food services, and arts entertainment and recreation. The single largest negative contributing industry was architectural and engineering activities which fell by 5.1%, this follows a fall of 7.7% in Quarter 3 2019 compared with Quarter 3 2018. Positive contribution to growth was widespread among the 10 sectors with the largest positively contributing industries being motion pictures, video and TV, and education.

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5. Services output in 2019 compared with 2018

Services output grew 1.8% in 2019 (Figure 5), the largest contributions are from information and communication and wholesale, motor and retail trade (Figure 6), this is a continuation of subdued growth since 2013. Of the 14 sectors only two contributed negatively: financial and insurance activities, and activities of households as employers. In financial and insurance activities, most of the negative growth was contributed by financial service activities, except insurance and pension funding which declined 2.9% compared with 2018.

The largest industry contribution to annual growth was computer programming, consultancy and related activities which continues a long period of growth, followed closely by retail trade, except motor vehicles (for more information on retail trade, except motor vehicles please see Retail sales, Great Britain: December 2019).

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6. Index of Services data

Index of Services time series
Dataset | Dataset ID: IOS1 | Released on 11 February 2020
Monthly movements in output for the services industries: distribution, hotels and restaurants; transport, storage and communication; business services and finance; and government and other services.

Monthly Business Survey turnover of services industries
Dataset | Released on 11 February 2020
Monthly Business Survey services industries' total turnover; current price and non-seasonally adjusted, UK.

Index of Services, main components and sectors to four decimal places
Dataset | Released on 11 February 2020
Monthly historic movements in output for services and their industry components, by chained volume indices of gross value added, UK.

Index of Services revisions triangles
Dataset | Released on 11 February 2020
Monthly chained volume indices in gross value added for services and its main components.

All data related to the Index of Services are available on the Related data page.

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7. Glossary

Index number

The index number is a measure of the average level of prices, quantities or other measurable characteristics relative to their level for a defined time period or location.

Industrial classification or breakdown

The industrial classification or breakdown is the internationally standardised method for classifying the wide range of industrial sectors in an economy. We use the Standard Industrial Classification 2007 (SIC 2007) for industrial breakdowns.

Monthly Business Survey

The Monthly Business Survey (MBS) collects information on the monthly turnover of UK businesses within the production and service sectors from various industrial sectors and regions in the UK.


Services refers to the output produced by the services industries within the UK economy. There are four main components of the services industries: distribution, hotels and restaurants; transport, storage and communication; business services and finance; and government and other services. Overall, services industries account for around 79.6% of gross domestic product (GDP).


The turnover of a company is the value of the goods or services sold during a particular time period. It includes total takings or invoiced sales and receipts. Interest and similar income, "other operating income", and extra ordinary income is excluded. Value Added Tax (VAT) invoiced to the customer is excluded.

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8. Measuring the data

Data sources and collection

The Index of Services (IoS) is compiled using data from several different sources:

  • ONS: Monthly Business Survey (42.4%)
  • ONS: Retail Sales Inquiry (6.7%)
  • ONS: Government Expenditure (20.1%)
  • ONS: Households Expenditure (16.0%)
  • ONS: Finance Expenditure (8.3%)
  • Other (6.5%)

The Monthly Business Survey (MBS) data are published alongside this release in MBS turnover in services industries.

Data relating to the retail industry are broadly comparable with Retail sales, Great Britain: October 2019, published on 14 November 2019.

For further information on what is included within Other, please see the GDP(o) data sources catalogue.

Percentage of each data source is based on their gross value added weight. The GDP(o) methods and sources pages provide more information on the data that underpin these statistics; of particular note is the GDP(o) data sources catalogue.

From January 2018, Value Added Tax (VAT) data have also been included across 64 production industries for small- and medium-sized businesses. For more information, see VAT turnover data in National Accounts: background and methodology.

Quality and methodology

More quality and methodology information on strengths, limitations, appropriate uses, and how the data were created is available in the Index of Services QMI.

After EU withdrawal

As the UK leaves the EU, it is important that our statistics continue to be of high quality and are internationally comparable. During the transition period, those UK statistics that align with EU practice and rules will continue to do so in the same way as before 31 January 2020.

After the transition period, we will continue to produce our national accounts statistics in line with the UK Statistics Authority's (UKSA's) Code of Practice for Statistics and in accordance with internationally agreed statistical guidance and standards.

The Withdrawal Agreement outlines a need for UK Gross National Income (a fundamental component of the national accounts, which includes gross domestic product (GDP)) statistics to remain in line with those of other EU countries until the EU budgets are finalised for the years in which we were a member. To ensure comparability during this cycle, the national accounts will continue to be produced according to European System of Accounts (ESA) 2010 definitions and standards.

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9. Strengths and limitations

Seasonal adjustment

The data published in the Index of Services (IoS) release are all seasonally adjusted. This aids interpretation by removing annually recurring fluctuations, for example, those caused by holidays or other seasonal patterns.

Data volatility

Care should be taken when using the month-on-month growth rates as data can be volatile. Longer-term growth rates and examination of the time series allow for better interpretation of the statistics.

International comparisons

International comparison with the IoS is difficult, as most comparable economies do not produce equivalent estimates.

Eurostat turnover in services estimates are not comparable with the IoS, as they exclude the wholesale and retail trade; furthermore, most of the estimates are only available quarterly. The US Bureau of Economic Analysis also produces services output estimates, but only on a quarterly basis, with a four-month lag time. Japan has a direct equivalent of the IoS, but the estimates are not seasonally adjusted.

The closest equivalent estimates are from Canada, which produces a monthly output estimate of GDP with a breakdown by industry (including an aggregate for services). There are also comparable quarterly estimates from Sweden and quarterly estimates from Ireland.

More information on the strengths, limitations, accuracy and reliability of the IoS data can be found in the Index of Services QMI.

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Manylion cyswllt ar gyfer y Bwletin ystadegol

Mark Stephens
Ffôn: +44 (0)1633 456387