Coronavirus, the UK economy and society, faster indicators: 16 April 2020

New data and experimental indicators on the UK economy and society, including information related to the coronavirus (COVID-19). Indicators are constructed from rapid response surveys, novel data sources and experimental methods.

This is not the latest release. View latest release

20 April 2020

Online price change of high-demand products

Because of the way our automated web-scrapers collected prices from one particular high-street retailer, our new, experimental price indices have been overstating online price changes for some categories of high-demand products.

We are temporarily suspending publication of these figures to give us time to improve price collection from this retailer. We will correct these indices and resume publication of these data as soon as possible. This only effects the online price change of high-demand products section of this release; the other indicators are not affected.

These data are experimental statistics and this error has no impact on any of our regular consumer price statistics. This will not affect our use of web-scraped data in our future transformation plans.

Cyswllt:
Email Rob Kent-Smith

Dyddiad y datganiad:
16 April 2020

Cyhoeddiad nesaf:
23 April 2020

1. Other pages in this release

More detailed commentary on the social impacts of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is available on the following page:

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2. Weekly indicators in response to coronavirus

This bulletin contains:

  • initial results from wave 2 of the Business Impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) Survey (BICS) for the period 23 March to 5 April 2020

  • results from the new Opinions and Lifestyle (OPN) Survey covering the period 27 March to 6 April 2020; these are to help understand the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on people, households and communities in Great Britain

  • experimental online price indices for several high-demand products (HDPs) for 16 March to 12 April 2020, covering items such as long-life food, health, and household and hygiene products

  • weekly and daily shipping data for the UK

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3. Main points

  • Of the 5,316 businesses responding to the Business Impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) Survey (BICS), 25% reported they had temporarily closed or paused trading for the period 23 March to 5 April 2020, while 75% were continuing trading.

  • For responding businesses who were still trading, an average of 21% of the workforce had been furloughed (under the terms of the UK government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme) in the period 23 March to 5 April 2020.

  • The Opinions and Lifestyle (OPN) Survey results show just over half of adults (53.1%) said the coronavirus (COVID-19) was affecting their well-being.

  • Staying in touch with friends and family remotely is the most common action that is helping people cope with staying at home (76.9%).

  • Overall, online prices of items in the high-demand products (HDP) basket have increased by 1.8% over the period week 3 (30 March to 5 April) to week 4 (6 April to 12 April).

  • Daily shipping data shows, up to 11 April 2020 there has been a gradual decrease in daily ship visits to the UK during the past few weeks.

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Online price change analysis is experimental and should not be compared with our regular consumer price statistics. The Business Impact of COVID-19 Survey is voluntary and may only reflect the characteristics of those who responded; results are experimental.

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4. Business impact of the coronavirus

Of 17,786 businesses surveyed by the Business Impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) Survey (BICS) in wave 2, 5,316 (30%) have responded so far for the period 23 March to 5 April 2020.

Financial performance

Initial results from wave 2 of the BICS show that around a quarter of businesses that responded had temporarily closed or paused trading, while 0.4% permanently ceased trading, for the period 23 March to 5 April 2020. Around 75% reported continuing trading during this period.

More about coronavirus

  • Find the latest on coronavirus (COVID-19) in the UK.
  • All ONS analysis, summarised in our coronavirus roundup.
  • View all coronavirus data.
  • Initial survey results from wave 2 of the BICS show, of the businesses who had responded and were continuing trading, approximately:

    • 38% reported that their turnover was substantially lower than their normal range

    • 3% reported their turnover was substantially higher than their normal range

    • 5% reported that while their turnover had been affected between the period 23 March to 5 April, it was still within their normal range

    Of the affected businesses, 99% of those who reported that their turnover was abnormally affected between this period attributed this to the coronavirus (COVID-19).

    Workforce

    On average, for those businesses who have responded to wave 2 of the BICS and are continuing to trade:

    • 21% of the workforce had been furloughed under the terms of the UK government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

    • 70% of the workforce were still working as normal for the period between 23 March and 5 April 2020

    • 5% of the workforce were off sick or in self-isolation because of the coronavirus

    Of those businesses continuing to trade, the survey also asked what measures were being taken to manage their current workforce.

    In terms of the measures taken to manage the workforce as a result of the coronavirus, of businesses continuing to trade who have responded to the BICS so far:

    • 41% said they were reducing staff levels in the short-term in the period 23 March to 5 April 2020

    • 29% reported having to decrease working hours

    • 7% reported that they were recruiting staff in the short-term

    Businesses were also asked what arrangements were in place in terms of staff working patterns in the period 23 March to 5 April 2020. Of those businesses continuing to trade, on average:

    • 47% of staff were working remotely

    • 37% of staff were still working at their normal place of work

    • 16% of staff had other arrangements in place between 23 March to 5 April 2020

    It should be noted that there is likely overlap in these figures.

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    5. Coronavirus and the social impacts on Great Britain

    Initial results from the new Opinions and Lifestyle (OPN) Survey covering the period 27 March to 6 April 2020; these are to help understand the impacts of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on people, households and communities in Great Britain.

    Following government guidance to prevent the spread of the coronavirus

    Alongside the Stay At Home guidance, official advice is that people should self-isolate if they or someone in their household experiences symptoms related to the coronavirus (COVID-19). These results should not be interpreted as an estimate of those with COVID-19 symptoms or those diagnosed with COVID-19.

    Just over 2 in 5 adults (41.2%) said they had self-isolated (stayed at home) in the past seven days. For those aged 70 years and over, this rose to 62.3%, while for those with an underlying health condition (of all ages) it was 57.5%.

    Figure 5: Over 70s are most likely to have self-isolated in the past seven days, though there has been a small increase in those aged 16 to 69 years who are self-isolating

    Great Britain, 20 March to 30 March 2020 and 27 March 2020 to 6 April 2020

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    Nearly all adults (96.8%) said they had avoided physical contact (such as shaking hands) with other people, a similar level to last week (94.3%).

    An increased proportion of adults in employment said they were working from home this week (45.8%) compared with last week (42.9%). It is not known whether those who said they were not working from home were still working in their usual place of work or if they had stopped working.

    This wave of the survey is the first to be wholly collected after the government’s Stay At Home measures were introduced. This advises everyone to stay in their homes apart from a limited number of reasons such as essential shopping, medical reasons, one form of daily exercise and key workers travelling to work. The first estimate of the proportion of people following this guidance will be published next week.

    Impact on well-being

    Just over half of adults (53.1%) said the coronavirus was affecting their well-being, with the most common issue being feeling worried about the future.

    Coping whilst staying at home and community support networks

    Despite restrictions on physical contact with others, finding a way to stay in touch with friends and family remotely is the most popular action that is helping people cope whilst staying at home. Spending time with members of their household was also an important part of coping during this lockdown period. Leisure activities such as watching films (55.5%), reading (39.2%), gardening (37.6%) and cooking (34.2%) were also popular.

    Figure 6: The majority of adults said staying in touch with friends and family is helping them cope

    Great Britain, 27 March 2020 to 6 April 2020

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    6. Online price change for high-demand products (HDP)

    A timely indication of weekly price change for high-demand products (HDP) has been developed, covering the period 16 March to 12 April 2020.

    It is not appropriate to compare the experimental online price movements detailed in this release with the headline Consumer Prices Index including owner occupiers’ housing costs (CPIH) as CPIH includes a wider range of items and is produced using different methods, data sources and quality thresholds. They should also not be used to pre-empt any future publication of consumer price statistics because of these differences. More information on retailers and items included within the HDP basket is available in the Online price changes for HDPs methodology. This article also includes details on the methods and data sources used for these price indices.

    Prices for the HDP basket increased by 1.8% from 30 March to 5 April (week 3) to 6 April to 12 April (week 4) with prices for all long-life food items decreasing by 1.5% and all household and hygiene items increasing by 1.1%. At a more detailed level, prices for pet food and rice rose by 8.4% and 5.8% respectively, while prices of pasta sauce fell by 4.5% (note that the size of the sample means that sometimes single retailers can contribute to substantial movements at the item level).

    Figure 8 presents price movements for these aggregate indices and selected items. Movements in the all HDP items index show a stable increase over time, with an increase of 4.4% since week 1. Pet food has a high weight in the all HDP items basket and is one of the main drivers of this change.

    In contrast, the movement for food items included in the HDP basket fluctuates around the “no change” mark over the period. Prices have fallen by 1.1% for week 4 (compared with week 1), compared with an increase of 0.4% for week 3 (compared with week 1).

    Some item movements can be more volatile. For example, prices for rice fell by 11.7% from week 2 to week 3 but rose by 5.8% from week 3 to week 4 (Figure 8), resulting in an overall price fall from week 1 to week 4 of 4.8%.

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    7. Shipping indicators

    This section discusses the shipping indicators based on counts of all vessels, cargos and tankers up to the week commencing 30 March 2020 for weekly data, and up to 11 April 2020 for daily data.

    Following a review, we have changed the source of these data and improved the methodology used to produce them. We aim to increase the length of all time series in future releases.

    As discussed in Faster indicators of UK economic activity: shipping, we expect the shipping indicators to be related to the import and export of goods.

    In the week commencing 30 March 2020, the number of unique visits to UK ports fell by 4.9%. Total visits to UK ports decreased by 8.8% in the same period.

    We have now started to include daily shipping indicators for the ship visits. We will look to include more daily data in future releases.

    These data are available up to 11 April 2020, showing UK total visits for all ships.

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    8. Coronavirus, the UK economy and society, faster indicators data

    Weekly shipping indicators
    Dataset | Released 16 April 2020
    The weekly shipping indicators dataset associated with the faster indicators of UK economic activity.

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    9. 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.

    High-demand product (HDP) basket

    A HDP basket means everyday essential items that currently have a high consumer demand, including items from food, health and hygiene categories. The selection of these items was based on anecdotal evidence on patterns of consumer spend. The basket does not cover all items within these categories.

    Underlying health condition

    This refers to any medical condition a person suffers with on a daily basis that, when faced with another medical condition (such as coronavirus (COVID-19), could cause their symptoms to worsen. Specific conditions include alzheimer's disease or dementia, angina or long-term heart problem, asthma, autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or asperger's (Asperger syndrome), cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or long-term lung problem, diabetes, epilepsy or other conditions that affect the brain, high blood pressure, kidney or liver disease, stroke or cerebral haemorrhage or cerebral thrombosis and rheumatoid arthritis.

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    10. Measuring the data

    Shipping

    These weekly faster shipping indicators data are created through new experimental methods and are not official statistics. More quality and methodology information is available in Faster indicators of UK economic activity: shipping.

    Business Impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) Survey

    The business indicators are based on responses from the voluntary, fortnightly Business Impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) Survey, which captures business’ views on impact on turnover, workforce prices, trade and business resilience. These data relate to the period 23 March 2020 to 5 April 2020. The survey questions are available in Business Impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) Survey questions: 23 March 2020 to 5 April 2020.

    Sample size and weighting

    Estimates from the Business Impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) Survey (BICS) are currently unweighted and should be treated with caution when used to evaluate the impact of the coronavirus across the UK economy. Each business was assigned the same weight regardless of turnover, size or industry, and the data in the latest period are preliminary.

    Caution should be taken when evaluating the impact of measures introduced on 20 March 2020 as the current survey asks businesses for responses for the entire two-week time period.

    Online price change for high-demand products (HDP)

    Prices were scraped daily from several large online UK retailers (typically supermarkets and other prominent high-street chains with an online presence) from 16 March to 12 April 2020 for selected items chosen to form the HDP basket (see Table 1 in the online price changes for HDPs methodology). An average weekly price was then calculated for each unique product and a GEKS-Jevons index was calculated.

    More information on the strengths and limitations of the online price changes data is available in the Online price changes of high-demand products methodology.

    Social impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) (OPN)

    Data on the social impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) on Great Britain were collected from the Opinions and Lifestyle Survey (OPN) and the Labour Market Survey (LMS). The data related to the period 27 March to 6 April 2020. In this first wave, 2,010 individuals were sampled, with a response rate of 78.7% (or 1,581 individuals) for the survey.

    More information on the strengths and limitations of the OPN Survey is available in the “Strengths and limitations” section of the Coronavirus and the social impacts on Great Britain bulletin.

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    11. Strengths and limitations

    Business Impact of Coronavirus Survey

    The Business Impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) Survey (BICS) is voluntary and responses are qualitative, which should be treated with caution as results reflect the characteristics of those who responded and not necessarily the wider business population.

    These data should not be used in place of official statistics. The survey was designed to give an indication of the impact of the coronavirus on businesses and a timelier estimate than other surveys.

    The data from wave 2 of the new fortnightly BICS covers the period 23 March to 5 April 2020, across all business sectors covered by the Monthly Business Survey (including Retail Sales Index and construction).

    We do not recommend comparison between the latest data from BICS and the last period (9 March to 22 March 2020) because of changes in the questionnaire and additional questions. Further analysis is currently being undertaken to allow this for future publications.

    Online price change for high-demand products (HDP)

    These experimental online price changes data should not be compared with the headline Consumer Prices Index including owner occupiers’ housing costs (CPIH). The CPIH is produced using different methods, data and quality thresholds, and incorporates a broader range of goods and services, such as housing.

    More information on the strengths and limitations of the online price changes data is available in the Online price changes of high-demand products methodology.

    Social impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) (OPN)

    More information on the strengths and limitations of the Opinions and Lifestyle (OPN) Survey is available in the “Strengths and limitations” section of the Coronavirus and the social impacts on Great Britain bulletin.

    Publication of coronavirus (COVID-19) related data

    We will be publishing this faster indicator bulletin on a weekly basis during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This is to ensure we are meeting user needs for more timely data. We will be adding new data and experimental indicators as and when data become available each week.

    This publication will include regular updated data from the new fortnightly survey, BICS, online prices for HDPs, and weekly indicators from the OPN survey on social impact of COVID-19.

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