Coronavirus and the latest indicators for the UK economy and society: 29 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:
29 October 2020

Cyhoeddiad nesaf:
5 November 2020

1. Main points

  • According to the latest Business Impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) Survey, nearly half (47%) of currently trading UK businesses reported that their turnover had decreased below what is normally expected for this time of year. See Section 3.

  • According to the latest Opinions and Lifestyle Survey, the proportion of British adults who worked from home increased to 29%, the highest since the beginning of July. See Section 4.

  • Between 16 and 23 October 2020, total online job adverts increased for the seventh consecutive week from 66% to 70% of their 2019 average, the highest recorded level since 27 March 2020. See Section 6.

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

  • In the week ending 25 October 2020, the number of Energy Performance Certificates across England and Wales was 2% higher for existing dwellings and 13% higher for new dwellings than the same week the previous year. See Section 8.

  • On the weekend 24 to 25 October 2020, footfall in Wales fell to a quarter of its level in the same period a year ago. See Section 9.

  • On Monday 26 October 2020, the volume of all motor vehicle traffic was 13 percentage points below the levels seen on the first Monday of February 2020. See Section 10.

  • In the week ending 25 October 2020, counts for all categories of traffic camera activity decreased across London, Greater Manchester and Northern Ireland from the previous week. See Section 10.

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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 (Hover over indicator column for source)

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3. Business impact of the coronavirus

Initial results from Wave 16 of the Business Impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) Survey (BICS) are for the period 5 to 18 October 2020, which closes on 1 November 2020. Out of 24,315 businesses sampled, 20% had responded by 27 October.

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.

Across all UK industries:

  • 82% 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
  • 4% of businesses had paused trading but intend to restart in the next two weeks
  • 9% of businesses had paused trading and do not intend to restart in the next two weeks
  • 4% of businesses had permanently ceased trading

Of businesses that have not permanently stopped trading, 8% of their workforce were on partial or full furlough leave, 29% were working remotely, and 60% were working at their normal place of work.

Table 1 shows the financial performance of businesses currently trading.

When asked about their cash reserves, 4% of businesses that have not permanently stopped trading said that they had no cash reserves, 39% said that they had less than six months, and 35% said that they had more than six months; 22% said that they were not sure how long their cash reserves would last.

More about coronavirus

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4. Social impacts of the coronavirus on Great Britain

This section includes some headline results from Wave 30 of the Opinions and Lifestyle Survey (OPN), which covers Great Britain, for the period 21 to 25 October 2020.

Travelling to work

In the week ending 25 October, the proportion of British adults who worked from home increased to 29%, the highest since the beginning of July. In contrast, both the proportions of adults who travelled to work and those who neither worked from home nor travelled to work each remained relatively stable, at 59% and 13% respectively.

Face coverings

The proportion of adults who had used a face covering in the previous week when leaving home rose slightly, by 2 percentage points to 98%. 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 30 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.

Figure 4: Between 16 and 23 October, total online job adverts increased for the seventh consecutive week from 66% to 70% of their 2019 average, the highest recorded level since 27 March 2020

Total weekly job adverts on Adzuna, UK, 4 January 2019 to 23 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 adverts dataset, and more details on the methodology can be found in using Adzuna to derive an indicator of weekly indices.

Download the data

In the latest week, total online job adverts increased by 4 percentage points to 70% of their 2019 average. 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 21 of the 28 Adzuna categories.

There was an 11 percentage point increase in the healthcare and social care category to 106% of its 2019 average, which is currently at the highest percentage of the categories in Figure 4. Transport, logistics and warehouse decreased by 19 percentage points to 156% of its 2019 average, although this category has seen high volatility.

Figure 5: The volume of online job adverts increased in every country and region of the UK

Total weekly job adverts on Adzuna, UK, 4 January 2019 to 23 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.

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The volume of online job adverts increased in every country and English region (NUTS1) of the UK. The largest increase was in Northern Ireland, where the volume of job adverts increased by 8 percentage points to 79% of its 2019 average.

The region with the highest volume of job adverts compared with its 2019 average was the East Midlands at 89%, followed by the North East at 88% of its 2019 average. London remains the region with the lowest volume of job adverts for the ninth consecutive week, at 57% 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

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 25 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 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 by 0.1% overall between Week 20 and Week 21. Figure 6 presents the contributions to this weekly change from each of the main categories of items.

Price changes seemed relatively muted in the latest week, with most categories either showing a small downward movement or no movement at all. The largest contribution to the downward weekly change was identified in the category of vegetables (negative 0.03 percentage points). The only positive contribution to the weekly change was identified in the category of milk, cheese and eggs (0.01 percentage points).

The price of vegetables decreased by 0.3% between Week 20 and Week 21. This was attributable to a general downward contribution of several items in the category, with the largest contributions from onions (negative 0.07 percentage points) and potatoes (negative 0.04 percentage points) partly offset by the positive contribution of crisps (0.04 percentage points).

Prices for milk, cheese and eggs increased by 0.1% in the latest week, primarily driven by cheese (0.13 percentage points). This was partially offset by small price decreases for a few products, the largest being yogurt, which alone contributed negative 0.04 percentage points.

Figure 7, 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 consistently decreased over the last 21 weeks. Whereas the pattern of the other categories in the chart has been more similar to the all-item index with a downward trend up to Week 16, followed by a slow increase. In recent weeks the all-item index has been stable, slightly below its starting point 21 weeks ago.

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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 (MHCLG).

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 25 October 2020. This section analyses the percentage change compared with the same week the previous year. For example, the latest week ending 25 October 2020 was compared with the week ending 27 October 2019.

The latest week shows that all NUTS1 regions except Yorkshire and The Humber and East of England had higher levels of existing and new dwellings EPCs compared with the same period last year.

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.

Figure 10 shows the volume of footfall in each English region and UK country compared with the same day the previous year.

The weekly average footfall for the week ending 25 October fell in 6 of the 10 regions, with the largest decreases in Northern Ireland (which introduced additional restrictions on 16 October) and Wales (which introduced a national lockdown on 23 October). On the weekend of 24 to 25 October, footfall in Wales fell to a quarter of that seen a year ago.

Average weekly footfall for the week ending 25 October increased marginally in three regions: the West Midlands, East Midlands, and Greater London.

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 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 total motor vehicle traffic has continued to fall slightly in recent weeks. On Monday 26 October, car traffic had fallen to 17 percentage points below levels seen in the first week of February 2020.

Heavy vehicle traffic remains slightly above traffic seen in the first week of February, whilst light commercial vehicle traffic is consistent with levels seen 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: DurhamLondonGreater ManchesterNorth EastNorthern IrelandSouthend and Reading.

Figure 12: In the week ending 25 October 2020, counts for all categories of traffic camera activity decreased across London, Greater Manchester and Northern Ireland from the previous week

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 to 22 March 2020 for London.

Download the data

In the latest week ending 25 October 2020, all categories of traffic camera activity in London had decreased. Counts of cars, buses and pedestrians and cyclists in London decreased on the previous week to around 80% of the average level seen pre-lockdown. Please note that counts of buses give no indication of the number of passengers onboard.

In Greater Manchester, which moved into tier 3 "very high" coronavirus alert level on 23 October, counts of cars have decreased to 95% of the average level seen in the previous week, and pedestrians and cyclists' traffic decreased to 82%.

In Northern Ireland, which introduced additional restrictions on 16 October, counts of cars declined to 87% of the average level seen in the previous week, and pedestrians and cyclists' traffic has seen a sharp decline to 69%.

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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 29 October 2020
The weekly and daily shipping indicators dataset associated with the faster indicators of UK economic activity.

Online job advert estimates
Dataset | Released 29 October 2020
Experimental job advert indices covering the UK job market.

Traffic camera activity
Dataset | Released 29 October 2020
Experimental dataset for busyness indices covering the UK.

Online weekly price changes
Dataset | Released 29 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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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