Britain's economy shrank by a fifth in April as lockdown took hold

12 June 2020, 07:25 | Updated: 12 June 2020, 07:34

Shops and businesses were forced to close
Shops and businesses were forced to close. Picture: PA

The UK economy shrank by a fifth as gross domestic product (GDP) plunged by 20.4% in April - the first full month of lockdown, Government statistics show.

The ONS said that with the impact of the lockdown economic activity was down by 20.4 per cent in the largest single-month drop since records began in 1997.

The fall is significantly higher than March when activity was down 5.8 per cent that the ONS reported last month.

It means that GDP fell by 10.4% in the three months to April and sets the UK on course for one of its worst quarters in history.

May's GDP figures are also likely to be bad before things start to ease again in June as the economy slowly reopens.

The news comes after the country was plunged into lockdown on March 23 due to the ongoing impact of coronavirus, Prime Minister Boris Johnson addressed the nation and told people they must stay inside and only leave the house when absolutely necessary.

Experts had been expecting April's GDP to contract by 18.7%, according to a consensus compiled by Pantheon Macroeconomics.

The fall in GDP due to the coronavirus lockdown is "unprecedented", the Office of National Statistics (ONS) has said

Jonathan Athow, deputy national statistician at the ONS, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "Well, 20% is really unprecedented.

"Actually, if you take March and April together the fall was 25%. So in two months the economy shrank by a quarter."

Mr Athow said: "The biggest fall we have seen before was just over 2% - so, it's ten times the size of the largest fall we have seen before the coronavirus.

"Virtually every sector has been shrinking."