Index of Services, UK: March 2020

Movements in the volume of output for the UK services industries. Figures are seasonally adjusted.

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This is an accredited National Statistic. Click for information about types of official statistics.

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Dyddiad y datganiad:
13 May 2020

Cyhoeddiad nesaf:
12 June 2020

1. Main points

  • There was a drop of 6.2% in the Index of Services (IoS) between February 2020 and March 2020.

  • The biggest negative driver to monthly growth, wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles, contributed negative 1.27 percentage points; public administration and defence was the largest positive driver, contributing 0.01 percentage points.

  • In services, travel and tourism fell the most, decreasing by 50.1%, while accommodation fell by 45.7% and air transport by 44%.

  • There was a negative 1.9% growth in services in the three months to March 2020 compared with the previous three months.

  • Wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles was the main driver of three-monthly growth, contributing negative 0.41 percentage points.

  • Services output decreased by 1.0% between the three months to March 2019 and the three months to March 2020.

  • The coronavirus (COVID-19) had a strong negative impact on our estimates of monthly, three-monthly and three-monthly on a year ago growth for March 2020; for further and detailed analysis of the effect on our monthly IoS estimate, please see our article Coronavirus and the impact on output in the UK economy, UK: March 2020, published today (13 May 2020).

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2. Changes to this bulletin

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has changed the format for the Index of Services (IoS) and Index of Production (IoP) statistical bulletins.

Monthly, three-monthly and quarterly growth rates will be discussed in detail in GDP monthly estimate, UK: March 2020. In fulfilment of the commitment made in Meeting the challenge of measuring the economy through the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, we were are publishing an article on Coronavirus and the impact on output in the UK economy, UK: March 2020, which will discuss monthly movements in output in services, production and construction.

Please see COVID-19 and the production of statistics for further information on how the ONS is working to ensure that the UK has the vital information needed to respond to the impact of this pandemic on our economy and society.

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3. Index of Services data

Index of Services time series
Dataset | Dataset ID: IOS1 | Released 13 May 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 13 May 2020
Monthly Business Survey (MBS) services industries' total turnover; current price and non-seasonally adjusted, UK.

Index of Services, main components and sectors to four decimal places
Dataset | Released 13 May 2020
Monthly historical 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 13 May 2020
Monthly chained volume indices in gross value added for services and its main components.

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

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4. 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 services 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 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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5. Measuring the data

Data sources and collection

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

  • Office for National Statistics (ONS): Monthly Business Survey (MBS) (43.3%)
  • ONS: Retail Sales Inquiry (6.6%)
  • ONS: Government Expenditure (20.7%)
  • ONS: Households' Expenditure (15.5%)
  • ONS: Finance Expenditure (9.1%)
  • Other (4.8%)

The 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: February 2020, published on 26 March 2020.

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 February 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.

Leaving the EU

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 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.

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

We are aware of the upcoming challenges relating to the pandemic. However, the MBS is fully online, meaning that business owners can log on from any location and submit their data at an appropriate time. Most other data in the IoS come from within the ONS and therefore will be less impacted than survey data.

Our latest data and analysis on the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) on the UK economy and population is now available on a new webpage. This will be the hub for all special virus-related publications, drawing on all available data.

The ONS has released a public statement on COVID-19 and the production of statistics. Specific queries must be directed to the Media Relations Office.

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6. 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 three-monthly. The US Bureau of Economic Analysis also produces services output estimates, but only on a three-monthly 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 gross domestic product (GDP) with a breakdown by industry (including an aggregate for services). There are also comparable three-monthly estimates from Sweden and three-monthly estimates from Ireland.

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Manylion cyswllt ar gyfer y Bwletin ystadegol

Mark Stephens
Ffôn: +44 (0)1633 456387