Coronavirus and the latest indicators for the UK economy and society: 19 November 2020

Early experimental data on the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) on the UK economy and society. These faster indicators are created using rapid response surveys, novel data sources and experimental methods.

This is not the latest release. View latest release

Cyswllt:
Email David Matthewson

Dyddiad y datganiad:
19 November 2020

Cyhoeddiad nesaf:
26 November 2020

1. Main points

  • According to the Business Impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) Survey, 14% of UK businesses said they had low or no confidence that their business would survive the next three months. See Section 3.

  • According to the latest Opinions and Lifestyle Survey, the proportion of British adults shopping for things other than food and medicine decreased by half to 10%, the lowest level since mid-June 2020. See Section 4.

  • In the week ending Friday 13 November 2020, there were 15,952 UK company incorporations, which remains higher than the same week in the previous year (11,992). See Section 5.

  • Prices of items in the food and drink basket decreased by 0.1% in the latest week, with bread and cereals, and wine being the main drivers of the downward weekly change. See Section 6.

  • Between 6 November and 13 November 2020, total online job adverts saw a slight increase to 68% of the 2019 average. See Section 7.

  • According to Springboard, footfall in Wales has increased significantly compared with levels seen last week, which reflects the national "firebreak" ending on 9 November 2020, whilst Scotland, Northern Ireland and English regions saw a decline in footfall. See Section 9.

  • On Monday 16 November 2020, the volume of all motor vehicle traffic was 22 percentage points below the levels seen on the first Monday of February 2020. See Section 10.

  • In the week ending 15 November 2020, the average number of daily ships visits to the UK decreased to 291 visits, from 307 in the previous week. See Section 11.

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

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2. Latest indicators at a glance

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Source: Office for National Statistics – Faster indicators

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3. Business impact of the coronavirus

Final results from Wave 17 of the Business Impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) Survey (BICS) are for the period 19 October to 1 November 2020, which closed on 15 November 2020. Out of 38,760 UK businesses sampled, 27% responded.

Wave 17 of BICS saw an increase in the sample from approximately 24,500 to approximately 38,000, with an increase in the proportion of small- and medium-sized businesses being sampled.

These data were collected over the period 2 November to 15 November 2020 and refer to the period 19 October to 1 November 2020. This should be kept in mind in relation to local and national restrictions and the location and date when the business responded, as these could impact on the estimates.

All data in this section are weighted estimates. A detailed description of the weighting methodology and its differences to unweighted estimates is available in Business Impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) Survey: preliminary weighted results.

Trading status

Across all UK industries:

  • 79% of businesses had been trading for more than the last two weeks

  • 2% of businesses had started trading within the last two weeks after a pause in trading

  • 3% of businesses had paused trading but intended to restart in the next two weeks

  • 13% of businesses had paused trading and do not intend to restart in the next two weeks

  • 2% of businesses had permanently ceased trading

In Wave 17 (19 October to 1 November 2020), the percentage of businesses temporarily closed or paused trading has risen to levels last seen in Wave 11 (27 July to 9 August 2020). Businesses’ responses may be influenced by the opening and closing of restrictions during the questionnaire period. Further information on how the trading status of businesses varied depending on the timing of completing the questionnaire can be found in Table 2 of Business insights and impacts on the UK: 19 November 2020.

The accommodation and food service activities industry had the lowest percentage of businesses currently trading, at 63%. This was followed by the administrative and support service activities industry and the arts, entertainment and recreation industry, at 75% and 76% respectively.

The real estate activities industry and the administrative and support service activities industry had the highest percentages of businesses permanently ceased trading, at 6% and 5% respectively.

Workforce

Across all UK industries, of businesses not permanently stopped trading:

  • 9% of the workforce were on partial or full furlough leave

  • 28% of the workforce were working remotely instead of at their normal place of work

  • 60% of the workforce were working at their normal place of work

The arts, entertainment and recreation industry and accommodation and food service activities industry had the highest proportions of their workforce on partial or full furlough leave under the terms of the UK government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), at 34% and 22% respectively.

The information and communication industry and professional, scientific and technical activities industry had the highest proportions of their workforce working remotely instead of at their normal place of work, at 77% and 65% respectively. The information and communication industry also had the lowest proportion of their workforce at their normal place of work, at 19%.

Business confidence

Across all industries, of businesses that have not permanently ceased trading, 40% had moderate confidence that their business would survive the next three months, and 14% had low or no confidence of the same. Conversely, 40% said that they had high confidence.

The accommodation and food service activities industry had the highest percentage of businesses that had no or low confidence that their business would survive the next three months, at 34%. This was followed by the administrative and support service activities industry, at 18%.

Stockpiling

Businesses were asked whether they were stockpiling any materials or goods. Of businesses currently trading, 90% said that they were not stockpiling any materials or goods, and 7% said that they were; 4% said that they were not sure.

The breakdown of the materials and goods being stockpiled is shown in Table 1.

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4. Social impacts of the coronavirus on Great Britain

This section includes some headline results from Wave 33 of the Opinions and Lifestyle Survey (OPN) covering the period 11 November to 15 November 2020.

Travelling to work

In the week ending 15 November 2020, the proportion of British adults who:

  • travelled to work for at least part of the week decreased by seven percentage points to 51%

  • worked from home exclusively increased by four percentage points to 31%

  • neither worked from home nor travelled to work increased by 3 percentage points to 18%, the largest weekly increase since the series began

Shopping

The proportion of adults that shopped for food and medicine has remained the same as the previous week, at 70%. The proportion of adults that shopped for things other than food and medicine decreased by half to 10%, the lowest since mid-June 2020 as shown in Figure 2. This large drop could be attributed to recent national restrictions in England.

Face coverings

The proportion of adults who have used a face covering remained at historically high levels, this week at 97%. Further breakdowns such as the situations when a face covering was worn (for example, while shopping) and by the Great Britain countries, will be available in Coronavirus and the social impacts on Great Britain published on 20 November 2020.

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5. Company incorporations and voluntary dissolution applications

Incorporations

Voluntary dissolution applications

For more information on other measures of company closures not presented here, see Weekly indicators of company creations and closures from Companies House methodology: August 2020.

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6. Online price change in food and drink basket

A timely indication of weekly online price change for a selection of food and drink products from several, large UK retailers has been developed, covering the period 1 June to 15 November 2020. Details of the methodology used for these indicators can be found in Online price changes methodology. This analysis is experimental and should not be compared with our regular consumer price statistics.

The data time series, weekly growth rates and contributions to the weekly change for all individual food and drink items, along with sample sizes are published in a dataset alongside this release.

Online prices of items in the food and drink basket decreased overall by 0.1% between the week ending 8 November 2020 and the week ending 15 November 2020. Figure 5 presents the contributions to this weekly change from each of the main categories of items.

The main contributor within the bread and cereals category towards the price drop was breakfast cereals, with a contribution of negative 0.25 percentage points. The decrease in wine was broad-based across most items within the category. A further downward contributing factor was the category of milk, cheese and eggs.

Figure 6, with the data time series for the all-item index and some of the leading categories of the weekly change, shows that the all-item index has been on a broadly downward trend since the beginning of June 2020. This overall pattern, while more volatile, is also reflected in the bread and cereal series. The milk, cheese and eggs series has also been volatile but is now close to its starting point in June 2020. On the contrary, the prices for wine have been broadly increasing since the beginning of the series.

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7. Online job adverts

These figures use job adverts provided by Adzuna, an online job search engine, and include experimental estimates of online job adverts by Adzuna category and by UK country and Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics: NUTS1 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 7: Between 6 November and 13 November 2020, total online job adverts increased by 1.5 percentage points, to 68% of the 2019 average

Total weekly job adverts on Adzuna, UK, 4 January 2019 to 13 November 2020, index 2019 average = 100

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Notes:

  1. The observations were collected on a roughly weekly basis; however, before June 2020 they were not all observed at the same point in each week, leading to slightly irregular gaps between some observations.

  2. These series have a small number of missing weeks, mostly in late 2019, and the latest is in January 2020. These values have been imputed using linear interpolation. The data points that have been imputed are clearly marked in the accompanying dataset.

  3. 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.

In the latest week, total online job adverts saw a slight increase of 1.5 percentage points, following a fall in the number of adverts last week. Excluding the "unknown" category, online job adverts increased in 16 of the remaining Adzuna categories and decreased in the remaining 12 categories. The largest increase came from the domestic help category, which increased by 7 percentage points following a large drop in the previous week. This was followed by transport, logistics and warehouse, and education, which both increased by 6 percentage points. The trends of all the categories discussed can be seen in the accompanying dataset.

Figure 8: All UK regions increased their online job adverts in the latest week, with Wales showing the largest increase from 77% to 82% of its 2019 average

Total weekly job adverts on Adzuna, UK, 4 January 2019 to 13 November 2020, index 2019 average = 100

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Notes:

  1. There is a level shift in the Northern Ireland series from 17 October 2019 because of a large source of Northern Ireland job adverts being removed, and another level shift from 7 August 2020 because of a new source being included.

In the latest week, the volume of job adverts increased in all regions of the UK. The highest volume of job adverts compared with its 2019 average was in the East Midlands, at 89%. The largest weekly increase came from Wales, which increased by 5 percentage points to 82% of its 2019 average.

This weekly increase coincides with the end of “firebreak” restrictions in Wales, which ended on Monday 9 November 2020. Northern Ireland, where recently “circuit breaker” restrictions have been extended, was the region with the smallest weekly increase in the volume of adverts despite it seeing its first increase in three weeks. London also had its first weekly increase of job adverts in three weeks. However, it remains the region with the lowest volume of job adverts compared with its 2019 average, at 55%.

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8. Energy Performance Certificates

Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) are used as a timely indicator for the number of completed constructions (new EPCs) and as an indicator of housing market activity (as indicated by EPCs for existing dwellings which can be generated for numerous purposes). More detailed statistics split by Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics: NUTS1 English region are published weekly by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG).

From this publication onwards, the change in EPCs will be featured in Section 2, Latest indicators at a glance, but no longer highlighted here.

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9. Footfall

These figures are provided by Springboard, a provider of data on customer activity. They measure the volume of footfall compared with the same day the previous year at the overall level and across the categories of high streets, retail parks and shopping centres. For example, Sunday 15 November 2020 was compared with Sunday 17 November 2019.

In the latest week, overall seven-day average footfall decreased to 44% of the level seen the same day last year, compared with 58% the previous week. This remains above the spring lockdown low point seen in the week ending 12 April 2020.

Footfall across all retail locations in the UK fell in the latest week compared with the previous week, with footfall on high streets and shopping centres following a similar pattern, both at 36% of levels seen the same time last year, whilst footfall at retail parks was relatively high, at 68%. The large decrease in footfall coincides with the national restrictions in England, which took effect on 5 November 2020.

However, on Sunday 15 November 2020, overall footfall and footfall across all retail locations was slightly higher when compared with Sunday 8 November 2020, particularly in retail parks.

Figure 10 shows the volume of footfall in each English region and UK country compared with the same day the previous year. In the latest week ending 15 November 2020, footfall increased significantly in Wales to 72% of levels seen last year, a 42-percentage point increase on the previous week. This can be explained by the national “firebreak” for Wales ending on 9 November 2020. Footfall across all English regions decreased by 20 percentage points compared with the previous week to around 40% of footfall levels seen the same time in 2019.

Scotland and Northern Ireland both saw a small decrease in footfall compared with the previous week, and both countries have relatively high levels of footfall compared with the English regions, at around 60% of levels seen in 2019.

A full list of national restrictions is available from the Department of Health and Social Care for England, from the Scottish Government for Scotland, the Welsh Government for Wales and from nidirect for Northern Ireland.

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10. Roads and traffic camera data

The Department for Transport (DfT) produces daily road traffic estimates using data from around 275 automatic traffic count sites across Great Britain covering all road types, which are published weekly.

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 methodology article.

On Monday 16 November 2020, road traffic levels across the different vehicle categories were similar to the previous week’s levels. Road traffic across total motor vehicles was 2 percentage points higher than the previous week. However, this remains lower than before 5 November 2020, when national restrictions began in England, and 22 percentage points below the levels seen in the first week of February 2020.

Weekday road traffic volumes of heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) remain slightly above the levels seen in the first week of February 2020, in line with the last few months. However, HGVs have seen a slight decline in road traffic volumes over recent weekends. On Saturday 14 November 2020, HGV traffic levels were 4 percentage points lower than the previous Saturday.

Traffic camera activity

Traffic cameras are a valuable source for understanding the level of activity in towns and cities as well as changing patterns of mobility. The UK has thousands of publicly accessible traffic cameras with providers ranging from national agencies to local authorities. Further information on the methodology used to produce these data is available in our methodology article and Data Science Campus blog.

In the accompanying dataset, the following categories are available as non-seasonally adjusted, seasonally adjusted and trend data: cars, motorbikes (only available for London and the North East), buses, trucks, vans, and pedestrians and cyclists.

The categories are available for the following regions, which give a broad coverage across the UK and represent a range of different-sized settlements in urban and rural settings: DurhamLondonGreater ManchesterNorth EastNorthern IrelandSouthend and Reading.

Figure 12: In the week ending 15 November 2020, all categories of road transport in London except buses decreased compared with the previous week and remain below pre-March 2020 lockdown levels

Activity in selected areas, daily counts of cars, buses, pedestrians and cyclists, seasonally adjusted, March to November 2020, UK

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Notes:

  1. The regions shown here were selected to be representative of the regions available.

  2. Traffic camera images capture the appearance of buses, but they give no indication of the number of passengers using public transport.

  3. Pre-March 2020 lockdown averages are calculated from when the series started, 11 March to 22 March 2020 for London.

  4. Greater Manchester moved into Tier 3 "very high" coronavirus alert level on 23 October 2020. London moved into Tier 2 on 16 October 2020. Northern Ireland introduced a four week "circuit breaker" with additional restrictions on 16 October 2020.

  5. From Thursday 5 November until Wednesday 2 December 2020, England has entered a period of national restrictions which, amongst other measures, has asked the public to stay at home.

In the latest week ending 15 November 2020 in London, counts of all traffic except buses had decreased. Counts of pedestrians and cyclists decreased to 69% of levels seen before the pre-March 2020 lockdown whilst counts of cars decreased to 71%. Counts of buses increased slightly to 78%, although the counts of buses give no indication of the number of passengers onboard.

In Manchester, all categories of road traffic decreased. Counts of pedestrians decreased to 83% of the level seen in the previous week. Cars decreased to 89% of last week’s volume whilst counts of buses decreased to 87%.

In Northern Ireland, counts of all traffic except vans decreased compared with the average level seen in the previous week, with all categories except vans remaining below the average level seen pre-March 2020 lockdown.

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11. Shipping

These shipping indicators are based on counts of all vessels, cargo and tanker vessels and passenger vessels. 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.

The decrease in the shipping visits is consistent with recent media reports and show reduced visits to the port of Felixstowe over the weekend of 14 and 15 November 2020.

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12. Data

Weekly and daily shipping indicators
Dataset | Released 19 November 2020
The weekly and daily shipping indicators dataset associated with the faster indicators of UK economic activity.

Online job advert estimates
Dataset | Released 19 November 2020
Experimental job advert indices covering the UK job market.

Traffic camera activity
Dataset | Released 19 November 2020
Experimental dataset for busyness indices covering the UK.

Online weekly price changes
Dataset | Released 19 November 2020
The online price changes for a selection of food and drink products from several large UK retailers. These data are experimental estimates developed to deliver timely indicators to help understand the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Business Impact of COVID-19 Survey (BICS) results 
Dataset | Released 19 November 2020
Responses from the new voluntary fortnightly business survey, which captures businesses responses on how their turnover, workforce prices, trade and business resilience have been affected in the two-week reference period.

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13. Glossary

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.

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.

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.

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14. Measuring the data

Detailed information on the data sources, quality and methodology of the different indicators included in this bulletin is available in the Coronavirus and the latest indicators of the UK economy and society methodology.

We will summarise any crucial updates to the quality or methodology in this section in the future.

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15. Strengths and limitations

Detailed information on the strengths and limitations of the different indicators included in this bulletin is available in the Coronavirus and the latest indicators of the UK economy and society methodology.

We will summarise any crucial updates or warnings in this section in the future.

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Manylion cyswllt ar gyfer y Bwletin ystadegol

David Matthewson
faster.indicators@ons.gov.uk
Ffôn: +44 (0)1633 455612