Coronavirus and the latest indicators for the UK economy and society: 8 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 David Matthewson

Dyddiad y datganiad:
8 October 2020

Cyhoeddiad nesaf:
15 October 2020

1. Main points

  • According to the latest Business Impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) Survey, nearly a fifth (19%) of businesses intend to use increased homeworking as a permanent business model in the future. See Section 3.

  • The proportion of adults who used a face covering was the highest since the data series began, at 98%, according to the latest Opinions and Lifestyle Survey. See Section 4.

  • Between 25 September and 2 October 2020, total online job adverts increased from 59% to 61% of their 2019 average, their highest recorded level since 3 April 2020. See Section 6.

  • Prices of items in the food and drink basket increased by 0.4% in the latest week, driven by an increase in the prices of vegetables, bread and cereals. See Section 7.

  • In the week ending 4 October, footfall decreased in all 10 featured countries and regions, with the largest decrease in Wales. See Section 8.

  • On Monday 5 October, the volume of all motor vehicle traffic was nine percentage points below the levels seen on the first Monday of February, the third consecutive week showing a small fall in traffic levels, according to data from the Department for Transport. See Section 9.

  • In the week ending 4 October, in London and the North East the counts of cars were around 90% of the average level seen pre-lockdown, and counts of pedestrians and cyclists 80%, according to traffic camera data. See Section 9).

  • In the week ending 4 October, the average number of daily ship visits was 289, which is slightly higher than the low point of 279 visits in the week ending 3 May 2020. See Section 10.

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

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2. Latest indicators at a glance

Table 1: Faster indicators summary dashboard

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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 14 of the Business Impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) Survey (BICS) are for the period 7 September to 20 September 2020, which closed on 4 October 2020. Out of 23,912 businesses sampled, 23% 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.

Across all industries:

  • 82% of businesses had been trading for more than the last two weeks
  • 4% of businesses had started trading within the last two weeks after a pause in trading
  • 3% of businesses had paused trading but intend to restart in the next two weeks
  • 10% of businesses had paused trading and do not intend to restart in the next two weeks
  • 1% of businesses had permanently ceased trading

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.

Of businesses not permanently stopped trading across all industries:

  • 19% intend to use increased homeworking as a permanent business model in the future
  • 67% do not intend to use increased homeworking as a permanent business model in the future (Figure 1)

Of businesses intending to use increased homeworking as a permanent business model in the future, 60% reported it was because of improved staff well-being, 55% reported it was because of reduced overheads, and 34% reported it was because of increased productivity.

Of businesses not intending to use increased homeworking as a permanent business model in the future, 66% reported it was not suitable for their business, and 10% reported it had reduced communication.

Other effects on the workforce and industry breakdowns are available in the detailed dataset.

For the first time, businesses were asked about the effect that the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic had on their profits in the last two weeks, shown in Figure 2.

Of businesses currently trading across all industries:

  • 43% experienced a decrease in profits compared with what is normally expected for this time of year
  • 34% experienced no impact on profits
  • 7% experienced an increase in profits compared with what is normally expected for this time of year

The accommodation and food service activities industry and the arts, entertainment and recreation industry had the highest percentages of businesses experiencing a decrease in profits, at 61% and 58% respectively.

The wholesale and retail industry had the highest percentage of businesses experiencing an increase in profits, at 14%.

More about coronavirus

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4. Social impacts of the coronavirus on Great Britain

This section includes some headline results from Wave 27 of the Opinions and Lifestyle Survey (OPN) covering the period 30 September to 4 October 2020.

Figure 3 shows that the proportion of adults who had used a face covering in the previous week when leaving home increased to 98%, the highest since the series began.

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 Great Britain countries, will be available in Coronavirus and the social impacts on Great Britain published on 9 October 2020.

The proportion of working adults who travelled to work was 61%, compared with 59% in the previous week, while the proportion who worked from home exclusively was 22%, compared with 24% in the previous week. The proportion of adults who neither worked from home nor travelled to work (which includes those on furlough) remained relatively stable at 17%.

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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 6: Between 25 September and 2 October 2020, total online job adverts increased from 59% to 61% of their 2019 average, their highest recorded level since 3 April 2020

Total weekly job adverts on Adzuna, UK, 4 January 2019 to 2 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.

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In the latest week, the total volume of online job adverts increased by two percentage points to 61% of its 2019 average, reaching above 60% for the first time since 3 April (Figure 6). Note there may be a seasonal component to this increase, as it is consistent with the previous year’s trend. Online job adverts increased in 18 of the 28 Adzuna categories, excluding the “unknown” category, and decreased in the remaining 10.

The volume of online job adverts in wholesale and retail increased eight percentage points to 54% of its 2019 average, its highest value since 27 March. Job adverts in education increased six percentage points to 76%, slightly below the peak on 26 June.

However, online job adverts did not increase in all categories. Catering and hospitality saw a decrease of three percentage points to 37% of its 2019 average, and health and social care saw a five percentage point decrease to 91%.

Figure 7: The volume of online job adverts increased in every country and region of the UK, and the largest increase was in Yorkshire and The Humber.

Total weekly job adverts on Adzuna, UK, 4 January 2019 to 2 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 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.

The volume of job adverts increased in every country and NUTS1 region of the UK. Yorkshire and The Humber saw the largest increase, with job adverts increasing 10 percentage points to 61% of their 2019 average. The smallest increase was in Northern Ireland, where job adverts increased from 68% to 69% of their 2019 average (Figure 7).

The two regions with the highest volume of online job adverts compared with the 2019 average were unchanged from the previous week; the East Midlands (80% of their 2019 average) followed by Wales (77% of their 2019 average). London remained the only region for which online job adverts were less than half of their 2019 average.

Download the data

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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 4 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 increased overall by 0.4% between Week 17 and Week 18. Figure 8 presents the contributions to this weekly change from each of the main categories of items.

The largest contribution to the weekly change was vegetables (0.12 percentage points), followed by bread and cereals (0.09 percentage points) and mineral waters, soft drinks and juices (0.07 percentage points).

Vegetable prices increased by 1.1% in the latest week, primarily driven by price increases for crisps, which contributed 0.84 percentage points towards the weekly change. Prices for bread and cereals increased by 0.6% in the latest week, with the largest contribution of 0.37 percentage points coming from breakfast cereals. Prices for mineral waters, soft drinks and juices also increased by 1.1% in the latest week, with the largest contribution of 0.78 percentage points coming from fizzy drinks.

Figure 9, with the time series for the all-item index and for the leading categories of growth in Week 18, shows that while prices have been falling across much of the period, over the last three weeks they have started to rise again, partly led by the price increases for the categories shown in Figure 8. However, prices for most categories in the basket remain below their starting point at the beginning of June.

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8. 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 driven by high streets. There was also a small decrease in shopping centres, while retail park footfall saw little change from the previous week (Figure 10).

Figure 11 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 Wales, followed by the West Midlands and South West, and the smallest decrease was in Northern Ireland.

Despite a small decrease in the latest week, the highest levels of footfall in comparison with the same day the previous year were still seen in Northern Ireland, followed by the South East. The lowest levels of footfall were seen in Wales, Scotland 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 Scottish Government for Scotland, from Welsh Government for Wales and from nidirect for Northern Ireland. Note that other factors may influence footfall including the recent poor weather.

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9. 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 12 shows road traffic across all motor vehicles has decreased slightly over the last few weeks.

On Monday 5 October, car traffic fell slightly to 14 percentage points lower than the equivalent Monday in the first week of February.

However, heavy vehicle and light commercial vehicle traffic have both remained stable and on Monday 5 October were slightly above the traffic levels 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 13: In the week ending 4 October, in London and the North East the counts of cars were around 90% of the average level seen pre-lockdown, and counts of pedestrians and cyclists 80%

Activity in selected areas, daily counts of cars, buses, pedestrians and cyclists, 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.

Download the data

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10. 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 data time series of daily and weekly passenger visits have been temporarily suspended because of quality concerns. We are investigating and hope to reinstate these series in future releases.

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11. Data

Weekly and daily shipping indicators
Dataset | Released 8 October 2020
The weekly and daily shipping indicators dataset associated with the faster indicators of UK economic activity.

Online job advert estimates
Dataset | Released 8 October 2020
Experimental job advert indices covering the UK job market.

Traffic camera activity
Dataset | Released 8 October 2020
Experimental dataset for busyness indices covering the UK

Online weekly price changes
Dataset | Released 8 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 8 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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12. 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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13. 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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14. 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