This page provides commentary and charts on the latest changes in the UK economy, using novel and rapid data sources as well as official statistics.

For an overview of our main economic indicators, visit our dashboard.

This page was last updated at 09:30 on 3 February 2023.

Debit card spending increased in late January

2 February 2023

Revolut debit card spending increased by 11 percentage points in the week to 29 January 2023, yet spending on "entertainment" and "pubs, restaurants and fast food" remains below the pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) level.

Data from retail experts, Springboard, suggest that overall retail footfall also increased but remains at 90% of the level seen in the equivalent week of 2019. Footfall in all categories remains below the 2019 level with retail parks the closest at 96%.

In the week to 29 January 2023, overall weekly retail footfall was 90% of the level in the equivalent week of 2019

Volume of daily retail footfall, percentage compared with the equivalent week of 2019, 1 January 2020 to 29 January 2023, UK

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The preceding seven-day rolling average gas price decreased by 2% in the week to 29 January 2023, according to data from the National Grid. This follows a sharp decrease since the start of the year, in line with usual seasonal expectations. According to BICS data, less than a fifth (19%) of businesses reported energy prices are their main concern in February 2023, down from 22% for January 2023.

According to jobs search engine, Adzuna, the total number of online job adverts rose for the third consecutive week, increasing by 5% when compared with the previous period, however, it is 19% lower than the equivalent week of 2022.

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Cost of living could be pushing up UK residents’ spending abroad

31 January 2023

People are taking fewer trips abroad compared with before the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, but the total amount spent overseas is almost as high.

UK residents made 24.9 million visits abroad between July and September 2022, the latest estimates from our International Passenger Survey (IPS) show.

That was around triple the 8.1 million visits during the same period of 2021, although the earlier figure excludes data on Eurotunnel travel because of pandemic-related restrictions on interviews.

However, it was still 17% below the 30.0 million visits between July and September 2019, before the pandemic affected international travel.

While the estimated number of visits abroad was still well below pre-pandemic levels, the amount spent was similar.

UK residents spent £22.1 billion during visits abroad between July and September 2022, which was close to the £21.9 billion spent during the same period in 2019. This could be an indication of the increased cost of living globally.

A similar pattern was seen with overseas residents’ visits to the UK. The 10.0 million visits made between July and September 2022 were down 16% from 11.9 million during the same period in 2019. Meanwhile, spending was similar for both periods, at £9.2 billion and £9.1 billion, respectively.

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One in seven worried about running out of food

30 January 2023

Around one in seven adults (15%) in Great Britain had been somewhat or very worried that their food would run out before they had money to buy more in the past two weeks. This is according to our article on the impact of winter pressures on different population groups in Great Britain.

This rose to one in four (25%) adults with dependent children, and 29% of adults living in the most deprived areas in England.

Worry about running out of food was also more common among those of Asian (or Asian British) ethnicity (26%), those of “Other ethnic group” (46%), and those experiencing moderate to severe depressive symptoms (37%).

Around 1 in 20 people (5%) said their household had run out of food, and they could not afford to buy more, in the past two weeks.

This rose to 8% among those with dependent children, and 13% of those living in the most deprived areas.

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Fifth of adults affected by rail strikes

27 January 2023

Around one in five adults in Great Britain (19%) say their travel plans had been disrupted by rail strikes in recent weeks.

That is according to survey data collected between 11 and 22 January 2023, which show a similar proportion (18%) said the same in the previous survey period covering Christmas and New Year.

Data collected between 7 to 18 December 2022 also show that 31% of working adults with children in school said they would have to work fewer hours if schools closed because of strike action, while 28% said that they would not be able to work.

However, 41% said their work would not be affected.

In the latest survey period, more than 9 in 10 adults (93%) said the cost of living is an important issue facing the UK.

However, that was closely followed by the NHS with 89% of adults saying it was an important issue, which was up from 81% among those asked a month earlier.

Around three in four (76%) said the economy, 59% said climate change and the environment, while 45% reported industrial action as an important issue in the UK today.

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Turnover falls among almost one in three trading businesses

26 January 2023

Almost a third (30%) of trading businesses reported their turnover had fallen in December 2022 compared with the previous month.

This was highest among the wholesale and retail trade industry, with almost half (46%) reporting their turnover had fallen, according to data collected between 9 and 22 January 2023. Meanwhile, 13% said their turnover had increased.

Costs are also increasing for some businesses. A quarter (25%) of businesses not permanently stopped trading said their staffing costs had increased over the previous three months.

Around two in five (41%) trading businesses reported an increase in the prices of goods or services they had bought in December 2022 compared with the previous month.

Almost a quarter (23%) of businesses reported their overall performance, including pricing, trading and workforce, had fallen in December 2022 compared with December 2021.

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Trade with Russia has plummeted following sanctions

26 January 2023

UK trade with Russia has fallen to historically low levels following the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 and the subsequent Russian economic sanctions on trade from February 2022.

The sanctions include bans on importing metals, fuel, wood products, high-end goods such as caviar, as well as further duties to a range of other goods.

This has led to imports of goods from Russia falling to £18 million in November 2022, a decrease of 98.2% compared with the monthly average from the 12 months to February 2022. Imports of fuel from Russia remain historically low with only £9.2 million imported in November 2022, a fall of 98.1%.

Imports of goods from Russia have decreased substantially

Imports of goods from Russia in millions, January 2021 to November 2022

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Download the data (xlsx, 18KB)

Notes:
  1. The UK Government has applied a series of sanctions on imports of goods from Russia (PDF, 837KB), with the first import bans implemented on 14 April 2022.

Exports of goods to Russia have decreased to £57 million, a fall of 77.4%. Exports of most commodities to Russia had decreased notably by November 2022. The largest decrease by value was seen in exports of machinery and transport equipment, which fell by £127.7 million (98.5%) when compared with the 12 months to February 2022.

Medicinal and pharmaceutical products, which are exempt from export bans, made up 50.9% of total exports to Russia in November 2022, up from 9.5% in the 12 months to February 2022.

The economic sanctions applied by the UK Government are likely to have driven the decreases in trade with Russia. However, self-sanctioning (whereby traders voluntarily seek alternatives to trading with Russian enterprises) is also likely a factor.

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Productivity above 2019 average in July to September 2022

26 January 2023

Labour productivity in the UK, measured as output per hour worked, was 1.6% higher than the 2019 (pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic) average in Quarter 3 (July to September) 2022.

This growth was driven by a 1.2% fall in the number of hours worked, with output only seeing a marginal increase of 0.3%.

Compared with Quarter 2 (April to June) 2022, output per hour increased by 0.1% in Quarter 3 2022.

The manufacturing, construction, and administrative services industries made the biggest positive contribution to productivity growth compared with 2019. By contrast, the public services, and wholesale and retail industries negatively contributed to productivity growth.

Public service productivity has remained mostly steady since spring 2021, but is still 7.4% below its pre-coronavirus levels.

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Poorest see drop in median income

25 January 2023

The median household disposable income of the poorest fifth of the UK population has decreased to £14,500 – a 3.8% drop.

For the richest fifth of the population, income increased during the same period, the financial year ending (FYE) 2022. It went up by 1.6% to £66,000.

The increase for the richest fifth of people followed a reduction of 1.0% during FYE 2021.

Meanwhile, in the 10 years leading up to FYE 2022, income in this group increased at an average rate of 1.2% per year.

In FYE 2022, median household disposable income in the UK was £32,300, a decrease of 0.6% from FYE 2021, based on estimates from our Household Finances Survey.

Income estimates for FYE 2021 and FYE 2022 were affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the range of financial support measures introduced to alleviate potential financial pressures.

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Out-of-town employment growing fastest

24 January 2023

Out-of-town areas have seen employment grow at higher rates than in towns and large cities over the last decade.

Employment in out-of-town locations across England and Wales grew by 20% between 2009 and 2021, compared with 7% in towns and 14% in large cities (excluding London).

This was the case in most parts of England and Wales, with the growth rate for employment greater out of town in 140 out of 173 locations, known as Travel to Work Areas.

However, the vast majority (87%) of employment growth in out-of-town locations happened within 2 kilometres of town or city boundaries, meaning it is likely to have included growth in business and retail parks.

Overall, towns accounted for 52% of total employment in England and Wales in 2021, compared with 14% for out-of-town locations, 19% in London and 15% in large cities.

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Just over a quarter of the UK workforce are night-time workers

24 January 2023

The total number of night-time workers went from 8.6 million in 2021 to 8.7 million in 2022 but has fallen from 9.5 million in 2016.

Someone is deemed a night-time worker if they "usually" work either in the evening or the night, irrespective of whether they also "usually" work in the day. By this definition, 26.7% of the workforce were night-time workers in 2022, down from a maximum of 30.8% in 2014.

The largest numbers of night-time workers are in the human health and social work activities sector, at 4.3% of the entire UK workforce. This is followed by accommodation and food service activities and wholesale and retail, where night-time workers make up 2.7% of all UK workers.

The night-time economy relies heavily on people born outside of the UK: between 2012 and 2022, the number of night-time workers born outside of the UK rose by 32.6% to 2.0 million. In the 24-hour health and personal services grouping of industries, this number rose by 69.1% to 0.5 million.

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