UK economic growth slowed in February

The UK economy grew by just 0.1% in February, despite a strong rebound in tourism bookings as pandemic restrictions were rolled back.

Growth slowed considerably from January, when gross domestic product (GDP) jumped by 0.8% as daily life started to get back to normal following a surge in Omicron cases in December.

Monthly GDP is now 1.5% above its pre-pandemic level in February 2020, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

Business picked up in February for travel agencies, hotels and tour operators, but the economy was dragged down by a sharp fall in the production of cars and computer products.

February’s figures were also affected by the reduction of the NHS Test and Trace and vaccination programmes, which made a strong contribution to GDP at the start of the year, according to Darren Morgan, director of economic statistics at the ONS.

Economists had expected GDP to grow by 0.3% in February after most Covid restrictions in England were lifted at the end of January, BBC News reported.

“The pace of the recovery was already going to slow once the post-Omicron bounce faded and the squeeze on household real incomes intensified,” said Ruth Gregory, senior UK economist at Capital Economics.

“But we hadn’t expected it to slow so much so soon.”

The UK economy grew by 7.4% last year following the biggest annual fall in decades when the pandemic struck in 2020.