Coronavirus and the latest indicators for the UK economy and society: 22 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.

This is not the latest release. View latest release

Cyswllt:
Email David Matthewson

Dyddiad y datganiad:
22 October 2020

Cyhoeddiad nesaf:
29 October 2020

1. Main points

  • According to the latest Business Impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) Survey, across all UK industries, 71% of businesses said they were at no or low risk of insolvency. See Section 3.

  • However, 17% of businesses in the accommodation and food services industry were at a severe risk of insolvency. See Section 3.

  • The proportion of adults in Great Britain who travelled to work decreased by 5 percentage points, to 60%, according to the latest Opinions and Lifestyle Survey. See Section 4.

  • Between 9 and 16 October 2020, total online job adverts increased for the sixth consecutive week from 63% to 66% of their 2019 average, the highest recorded level since 3 April 2020. See Section 6.

  • Prices of items in the food and drink basket decreased by 0.1% in the latest week, with spirits being the main driver of the change. See Section 7.

  • In the week ending 18 October 2020, the number of Energy Performance Certificates across England and Wales was 16% higher for existing dwellings and 2% higher for new dwellings than levels in the week ending 14 October 2019. See Section 8.

  • In the week ending 18 October 2020, overall footfall decreased to below 70% of its level in the same period of the previous year, with footfall dropping across high streets, shopping centres, retail parks and across all 10 featured countries and regions, with the largest decreases in the East of England and Northern Ireland. See Section 9.

  • On Monday 19 October, the volume of all motor vehicle traffic was 11 percentage points below the levels seen on the first Monday of February. See Section 10.

  • In the week ending 18 October 2020, the average number of daily ship visits increased slightly compared with the previous week, from 291 visits to 308. See Section 11.

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Results presented throughout this bulletin are experimental.

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2. Latest indicators at a glance

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Source: Office for National Statistics – Faster indicators (Hover over indicator column for source)

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3. Business impact of the coronavirus

Final results from Wave 15 of the Business Impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) Survey (BICS) are for the period 21 September to 4 October 2020, which closed on 18 October 2020. Out of 24,353 UK businesses sampled, 25% responded.

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 industries:

  • 84% 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
  • 2% of businesses had paused trading but intended to restart in the next two weeks
  • 9% of businesses had paused trading and did not intend to restart in the next two weeks
  • 3% of businesses had permanently ceased trading

The arts, entertainment and recreation industry and the administrative and support service activities industry had the highest percentages of businesses that were temporarily closed or paused trading, at 30% and 21% respectively.

Workforce

Across all 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 and 59% of the workforce were working at their normal place of work.

These proportions are unchanged between Wave 14 (7 September to 20 September) and Wave 15 (21 September to 4 October).

Financial performance

Across all industries, nearly half (48%) of businesses currently trading experienced a decrease in turnover compared with what is normally expected for this time of year, 34% experienced no impact on turnover, and 11% experienced an increase.

The arts, entertainment and recreation industry and the accommodation and food service activities industry had the highest percentages of businesses experiencing a decrease in turnover, at 75% and 68% respectively.

Conversely, the wholesale and retail trade industry had the highest percentage of businesses experiencing an increase in turnover, at 19%.

Business resilience

The accommodation and food service activities industry and the administrative and support service activities industry had the highest percentages of businesses with a severe risk of insolvency, at 17% and 9% respectively.

The real estate activities industry had the highest percentage of businesses with no risk of insolvency, at 70%.

More about coronavirus

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4. Social impacts of the coronavirus on Great Britain

This section includes some headline results from Wave 29 of the Opinions and Lifestyle Survey (OPN) covering the period 14 to 18 October 2020.

Travelling to work

The proportion of adults in Great Britain who travelled to work decreased by 5 percentage points, to 60%, as shown in Figure 2. Conversely, the proportion who worked from home increased to 25%, the highest since the beginning of August. The proportion of adults who neither worked from home nor travelled to work remained relatively stable at 14%.

Face coverings

The proportion of adults who had used a face covering in the previous week when leaving home fell slightly, by 2 percentage points to 96%. 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 23 October 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 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.

Note that the back series have been extended to February 2018, and these longer series are available in the datasets for the first time.

Figure 6: Between 9 and 16 October 2020, total online job adverts increased for the sixth consecutive week from 63% to 66% of their 2019 average, the highest recorded level since 3 April 2020

Total weekly job adverts on Adzuna, UK, 4 January 2019 to 16 October 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.

Download the data

In the latest week, total online job adverts increased by 3 percentage points to 66% of their 2019 average, and were above 60% for the third consecutive week. However, there may be a seasonal component to this increase, as it is consistent with the previous year’s trend. Online job adverts increased in 25 of the 28 Adzuna categories, excluding the “unknown” category, and decreased in the remaining three.

There was a 12 percentage point increase in the energy, oil and gas category to 74% of its 2019 average, although this category has seen fairly high volatility. There was also a 6 percentage point increase in online job adverts for engineering, and a 5 percentage point increase for IT, computing and software.

Figure 7: The volume of online job adverts increased in every country and region of the UK apart from Scotland

Total weekly job adverts on Adzuna, UK, 4 January 2019 to 16 October 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.

Download the data

The volume of online job adverts increased in nearly every country and English region (NUTS1) of the UK apart from Scotland, where they decreased by 1 percentage point. The largest increases were in Yorkshire and The Humber and the North West, where online job adverts both increased 5 percentage points to 76% and 73% of their 2019 averages respectively.

The regions with the highest volume of online job adverts compared with the 2019 average were unchanged from the previous week; the East Midlands (at 87% of its 2019 average) followed by the North East (at 80%). London remained the region with the lowest volume of online job adverts for the eighth consecutive week, with 53% of its 2019 average volume; however, like the rest of the UK it has also seen a steady increase in the volume of online job adverts over the previous two months.

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7. Online price change in food and drink basket

Online price change for a selection of food and drink products

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 18 October 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 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 Week 19 (5 October to 11 October) and Week 20 (12 October to 18 October). Figure 8 presents the contributions to this weekly change from each of the main categories of items.

The largest contribution to the downward weekly change was in the category of spirits (negative 0.03 percentage points). The second-largest negative contributions came from the categories of wine, bread and cereals, and meat, which each had a negative contribution of negative 0.02 percentage points. The largest positive contribution to the weekly change was in the category of coffee, tea and cocoa (0.02 percentage points), followed by fruit (0.01 percentage points), milk, cheese and eggs (0.01 percentage points), oils and fats (0.01 percentage points).

The price of spirits decreased by 0.6% between Week 19 and Week 20, with vodka contributing most to the downward change (negative 0.67 percentage points). Prices for wine recorded a decrease of 0.2%, with white, red and rose wine being the main contributors within the "wine" category (overall contribution of negative 0.30 percentage points).

Prices for coffee, tea and cocoa increased by 0.8% in the latest week, primarily driven by price increases for coffee, which contributed 0.71 percentage points towards the weekly change. Prices for oil and fats increased by 0.5% in the latest week, with the largest contribution of 0.65 percentage points coming from margarine and low fat spread.

Figure 9, with the data time series for the all-item index and some of the leading categories of the weekly change, shows that the prices for oil and fats have been falling across much of the period whereas the prices for wine have increased over time although have flattened off in recent weeks. This trend is also seen for the all-item index, which remained flat between Week 19 and Week 20.

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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 number of transactions (existing EPCs). 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.

This release includes weekly EPCs data for new and existing domestic properties in England and Wales from 24 February 2019 up to the week ending 18 October 2020. This section analyses the percentage change compared with the same week the previous year. For example, the latest week commencing 12 October 2020 was compared with the week commencing 14 October 2019.

On 20 September 2020, the register transitioned to www.gov.uk; all data before 20 September were provided from the Landmark register. This is depicted as a data break in the official published statistics (XLSX, 63KB). Comparisons made with previous years and weeks prior to 20 September should be made with caution.

With the exception of the week ending 6 September 2020, the volume of existing dwelling EPCs was higher than the same week the previous year for every week since 8 June. The latest week also shows all NUTS1 regions except Yorkshire and The Humber have higher levels of existing dwelling EPCs compared with the same time last year. This can be explained by lower than usual residential property transactions during March to June 2020 and a catch-up in property transaction demand up to September 2020 outlined by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) UK property transaction statistics (PDF, 336KB).

The percentage change of new dwelling EPCs compared with the same week a year ago continues to show a slower recovery relative to existing dwelling EPCs since May 2020. A reduction in construction would contribute to the delay in EPC assessments of new dwellings.

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

The decrease in overall footfall was mostly driven by high streets and shopping centres, with a smaller decrease in retail parks, as shown in Figure 11.

Figure 12 shows the volume of footfall in each English region and UK country compared with the same day the previous year. The most recent week saw a moderate decrease in footfall in most regions, when compared with the previous week. The largest decrease was in the East of England, which includes the Essex County Council area, which moved to tier 2 on 15 October, followed by Northern Ireland, which introduced additional restrictions on 16 October. The smallest weekly decrease in footfall was in Wales.

In the latest week, the highest level of footfall in comparison with the same period the previous year was in the South West, followed by the South East. The lowest levels of footfall were seen in Wales, Scotland and Greater London, which were all unchanged from the previous week.

At the time of publication, local lockdowns were in force in several of the affected regions. A full list of local lockdowns 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. Note that other factors may influence footfall including poor weather.

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10. 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 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.

Road traffic across total motor vehicles has fallen slightly in recent weeks, although it has stabilised in the most recent week, as shown in Figure 13. It continues to remain below levels seen in the first week of February 2020.

On Monday 19 October, car traffic remained at 15 percentage points lower than the equivalent Monday in the first week of February.

Light commercial vehicle traffic has remained stable whilst heavy vehicle traffic increased by 1 percentage point in the most recent week, with both remaining slightly above traffic seen on the equivalent Monday in the first week of February.

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 14: In the week ending 18 October 2020, counts of cars, pedestrians and cyclists in London all decreased from the previous week, and remain below the levels seen immediately before lockdown.

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

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Notes:

  1. The regions shown here were selected to be representative of the regions available (see list in the previous text).
  2. 31 August was a bank holiday.
  3. Traffic camera images capture the appearance of buses, but they give no indication of the number of passengers using public transport.
  4. Pre-lockdown averages calculated from when the series started (11 March for London, 1 March for the North East) to 22 March.

In the latest week ending 18 October 2020, all categories of activity in London had decreased. Counts of buses in London decreased on the previous week to around 93% of the average level seen pre-lockdown. Please note this gives no indication of the number of passengers onboard. Counts of cars and of pedestrians and cyclists have both decreased to 89% of the level of activity seen pre-lockdown. Motorbikes and trucks (which last week were both above pre-lockdown levels of 102% and 103% respectively) had decreased by 10 percentage points each to 92% and 93% respectively.

In the North East, counts of cars have increased to 99% of the average level seen pre-lockdown (with this period referring to 1 to 22 March), whilst pedestrian and cyclists' traffic increased from around 80% last week to 96%. Counts of buses remained above their level immediately before lockdown, at 103%.

In Northern Ireland, although data collection did not start until 15 May 2020, counts of buses continue to show a gradual increase, whereas cars, pedestrians and cyclists each continued the decline that has been seen in recent weeks.

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11. 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.

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12. Data

Weekly and daily shipping indicators
Dataset | Released 22 October 2020
The weekly and daily shipping indicators dataset associated with the faster indicators of UK economic activity.

Online job advert estimates
Dataset | Released 22 October 2020
Experimental job advert indices covering the UK job market.

Traffic camera activity
Dataset | Released 22 October 2020
Experimental dataset for busyness indices covering the UK

Online weekly price changes
Dataset | Released 22 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.

Business Impact of COVID-19 Survey (BICS) results
Dataset | Released on 22 October 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