Coronavirus and the latest indicators for the UK economy and society: 1 October 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.

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Cyswllt:
Email Chloe Gibbs

Dyddiad y datganiad:
1 October 2020

Cyhoeddiad nesaf:
8 October 2020

1. Main points

  • According to the latest Business Impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) Survey, 11% of the workforce were on furlough and 85% of businesses were currently trading, which is broadly comparable with the previous wave (12% and 84%, respectively). These estimates have been scaled up to be representative of all businesses in the UK. See Section 2.

  • The proportion of working adults who travelled to work at some point during the week fell to 59%, from 64% the previous week according to the latest Opinions and Lifestyle Survey. See Section 3.

  • Between 18 and 25 September, total online job adverts increased from 55% to 59% of their 2019 average, their highest recorded level since 3 April 2020. See Section 5.

  • Prices of items in the food and drink basket increased by 0.4% in the latest week, driven by milk, cheese and eggs and soft drinks. See Section 6.

  • In the week ending 27 September, overall footfall was similar to the previous week, with its weekly average remaining above 70% of its level in the same period the previous year. See Section 7.

  • On Monday 28 September, the volume of all motor vehicle traffic was seven percentage points below the levels seen on the first Monday of February, slightly lower than that of the previous week according to data from the Department of Transport. See Section 8.

  • Between 21 and 27 September, in London, counts of cars were comparable with that of the average level seen immediately pre-lockdown (11 to 22 March), according to traffic camera data. See Section 8.

  • In the week ending 27 September, the average number of daily ship visits was 263, compared with an average of 315 in the week before. See Section 9.

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The Business Impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) Survey (BICS) is voluntary with some of the estimates currently unweighted, so it may only reflect the characteristics of those who responded. Results presented are experimental. Weekly Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) data are not included in this release due to the switching over of the Energy Performance of Buildings Register. EPC figures will be included in future weeks.

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2. Business impact of the coronavirus

This section includes initial results from Wave 14 of the Business Impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) Survey (BICS) for the period 7 September to 20 September, which closes on 4 October 2020. Out of 23,912 businesses sampled, 19% have responded as of 29 September.

In this release we have weighted estimates for three main variables: the current trading status of the business, the impact of turnover for the business' financial performance, and the proportions of workforce status. This means responses to BICS have been scaled up to be representative of all businesses in the UK. More information regarding this weighting method are available in Business Impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) Survey: preliminary weighted results.

Figure 1: When scaled up to be representative of all businesses in the UK, 85% of businesses were currently trading, broadly comparable with the previous wave (84%)

Headline indicators from the Business Impact of Coronavirus Survey, 7 to 20 September 2020, UK

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Source: Office for National Statistics – Business Impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) Survey
Notes:
  1. All percentages are a proportion of the number of businesses who responded apart from the workforce percentages on furlough leave and receiving pay top-ups, which are proportions of employees for each responding business.

  2. Estimates for trading status have been weighted by count of UK businesses and the proportion of the workforce on furlough leave has been weighted by employment. All remaining estimates are unweighted.

  3. From 1 September the furlough scheme changed such that all employers must contribute 10% on top of the government’s 70% contribution. Our estimate for the proportion of businesses providing top-ups is 43%, with the likely interpretation of businesses being that they are providing top-ups above what they are obliged to provide under the new terms of the furlough scheme. BICS will update the wording to make this clear from Wave 15 onwards.

Of businesses who have not permanently stopped trading, when weighted by employment, 11% of their workforce were on partial or full furlough leave, 24% were working remotely, and 62% were working at their normal place of work.

Across all industries, weighted by count of UK businesses:

  • 81% of businesses had been trading for more than the last two weeks

  • 4% had started trading again within the last two weeks after a pause in trading

  • 2% had paused trading but intend to restart trading in the next two weeks

  • 11% had paused trading and do not intend to restart in the next two weeks

  • 1% had permanently ceased trading

Table 1 shows the financial performance of businesses currently trading, weighted by turnover.

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.
  • Find out how we are working safely in our studies and surveys.

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    3. Social impacts of the coronavirus on Great Britain

    This section includes some headline results from Wave 26 of the Opinions and Lifestyle Survey (OPN) covering the period 24 to 27 September 2020. The full results will be published in Coronavirus and the social impacts on Great Britain on 2 October 2020.

    Figure 2 shows that the proportion of working adults who travelled to work fell to 59% from 64% the previous week, while the proportion who worked from home exclusively increased to 24% from 21%. The proportion of adults who neither worked from home nor travelled to work (which includes those on furlough) remained relatively stable at 16%. This follows the Prime Minister’s statement on 22 September 2020 to work from home if you can.

    The proportion of adults who had used a face covering in the previous week when leaving home increased to 97%, remaining at or above 95% for the seventh consecutive week. This continues an increasing trend after face coverings became mandatory on public transport in England on 15 June, and in other enclosed public spaces in England on 24 July. In Scotland, face coverings on public transport were mandated on 22 June, and in shops on 10 July. In Wales, face coverings on public transport were mandated on 27 July and in shops on 14 September. Further breakdowns such as the situations when a face covering was worn (for example while shopping) and by the GB countries, will be available in Coronavirus and the social impacts on Great Britain published on 2 October 2020.

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    4. Company incorporations and 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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    5. 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 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 5: Between 18 and 25 September, total online job adverts increased from 55% to 59% of their 2019 average, their highest recorded level since 3 April 2020

    Total weekly job adverts on Adzuna, UK, 4 January 2019 to 25 September 2020, index 2019 average = 100

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

    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.

    The latest week’s four percentage point increase in the volume of online job adverts was spread fairly evenly across all 28 Adzuna categories, excluding the “unknown” category. This increase is consistent with the previous year’s trend, suggesting a seasonal component to this increase.

    The volume of online job adverts in wholesale and retail increased four percentage points to 46% of its 2019 average, its highest since 3 April. In the latest week online job adverts in health and social care, and in education, saw increases of seven and eight percentage points respectively, reaching 96% and 70% of their 2019 averages.

    Figure 6: The volume of online job adverts increased in every country and region of the UK; London saw the smallest increase, leaving it the only region with job adverts below half their 2019 average

    Total weekly job adverts on Adzuna, UK, 4 January 2019 to 25 September 2020, index 2019 average = 100, percentage points

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    Notes:
    1. There is a level shift in the Northern Ireland series from 17 October 2019 due to 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.

    The volume of job adverts increased in every country and NUTS1 region of the UK. Wales saw the largest increase, with job adverts increasing nine percentage points to 73% of their 2019 average. The smallest increase was in London, where job adverts increased just two percentage points to 48% of their 2019 average.

    The regions with the highest volume of online job adverts compared with the 2019 average were the East Midlands (76% of their 2019 average) followed by Wales (73% of their 2019 average). London continued to see the weakest recovery in online job adverts; it was the only region for which online job adverts were less than half of their 2019 average.

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    6. Online price change in food and drink basket

    A timely indication of weekly price change for a selection of food and drink products from several large UK retailers has been developed, covering the period 1 June to 27 September 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.

    Online prices of items in the food and drink basket increased overall by 0.4% between Week 16 and Week 17. Figure 7 presents the contributions to this weekly change from each of the main categories of items.

    The largest contributions to the weekly change were seen in the following:

    • milk, cheese and eggs (prices increased 0.9%), with the largest contributions from mousse and yogurt (0.6 percentage points)

    • mineral waters, soft drink and juices (prices increased 1.3%) with the largest contributions from fizzy drink, fruit juice and fruit smoothie (1.2 percentage points)

    The 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.

    Figure 8 shows that the all item index remains below the starting point of the series (1 June), with the overall index at 1.2 index points lower. Oils and fats have had the largest reduction in prices since the series began, showing an overall decrease of 4.7% since the beginning of June. Coffee, tea and cocoa products have shown a price reduction of 2.1% since the beginning of June, while vegetables have seen a smaller overall price decrease of 1.9% over the same period. Wine has shown the largest increase since the series began, now 1.2% above the starting point of the beginning of June, although prices have fallen slightly in the last three weeks.

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    7. 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, Tuesday 14 July 2020 was compared with Tuesday 16 July 2019.

    Figure 10 shows the volume of footfall in each English region and UK country compared with the same day the previous year. The regions follow a broadly consistent trend throughout the time series. In the latest week the highest levels of footfall were seen in the West Midlands, and the North and Yorkshire; and lowest were seen in Scotland and Greater London.

    In the two weeks from 16 March 2020, footfall declined to around 20% of its level the same time last year. Across all regions, the West Midlands and the East of England showed the lowest footfall at the lockdown low point on 28 March 2020.

    On 15 June, many types of non-essential shops and businesses were allowed to reopen in England, reflected by a large upward movement in footfall across all English regions. The relatively earlier footfall uptick in Northern Ireland and the delay in Scotland and Wales is likely due to the countries different easing timelines compared with England, in particular the government announcements on the reopening of non-essential shops and pubs.

    In the most recent week, footfall showed a slight decrease in most regions compared with the previous week. The largest increase was in the West Midlands, and the largest decrease was in the East of England followed by Wales and Northern Ireland.

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    8. Roads and traffic camera data

    Road traffic in Great Britain

    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 to 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.

    Figure 11 shows road traffic across all motor vehicles has continued to gradually return to levels seen in the first week of February 2020 following a lockdown low point around the end of March.

    On Monday 28 September, car traffic remained slightly below the levels seen in the first week of February 2020 (11 percentage points lower than the equivalent Monday in the first week of February). Car traffic levels gradually increased from the substantial drop seen in March and April. Since mid-July, levels have been within 20 percentage points of the February traffic levels.

    Heavy vehicle traffic was seven percentage points higher than traffic seen on the equivalent Monday in the first week of February 2020.

    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, 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: DurhamLondonManchesterNorth EastNorthern IrelandSouthend and Reading.

    Figure 12: Between 21 and 27 September, in London, counts of cars were comparable to that of the average level seen immediately pre-lockdown (11 to 22 March), while counts of buses were around 6% lower

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

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    Source: Transport for London, North East Traffic, TrafficWatchNI

    Notes:
    1. 31 August was a bank holiday.

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

    3. Note that for the North East there is no data available for 19 and 20 September due to a technical failure. These values will be imputed in a future release.

    In the latest week, average daily counts of cars in the North East had decreased by 7% of their levels immediately before lockdown began (1 to 22 March for the North East); buses had decreased by 5%. Counts of trucks had decreased slightly by approximately 1% whilst vans were higher by 3%.

    In Northern Ireland, although data collection did not start until 15 May 2020, the data continue to show a gradual increase in cars and pedestrians and cyclists. This trend is also observed across Manchester, Durham and Southend.

    More categories and areas are available in the accompanying dataset. Comparison to DfT road traffic estimates is shown in the accompanying traffic camera methodology article, published on 3 September.

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    9. Shipping

    These shipping indicators are based on counts of all vessels and cargo and tanker 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 time series of daily and weekly passenger visits have been temporarily suspended due to quality concerns. We are investigating and hope to reinstate these series in future releases.

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    10. Data

    Weekly and daily shipping indicators
    Dataset | Released 1 October 2020
    The weekly and daily shipping indicators dataset associated with the faster indicators of UK economic activity.

    Online job advert estimates
    Dataset | Released 1 October 2020
    Experimental job advert indices covering the UK job market.

    Traffic camera activity
    Dataset | Released 1 October 2020
    Experimental dataset for busyness indices covering the UK

    Online weekly price changes
    Dataset | Released 1 October 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.

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    11. 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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    12. Measuring the data

    BICS methodological improvements mean trading status is now weighted by count. Estimates over time follow the same general movements as the unweighted estimates but are at a lower level due to the impact of smaller businesses on the weighted estimates. We find smaller businesses are less likely to have been trading than larger businesses. More information and the evolution of these estimates through the pandemic can be found in Business Impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) Survey: preliminary weighted results.

    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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    13. 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

    Chloe Gibbs
    faster.indicators@ons.gov.uk
    Ffôn: +44 (0)1633 651988