LONDON: UK economy shrank by a quarter over March and April as entire sectors were shuttered by the coronavirus lockdown in what looks likely to be the bottom of a “catastrophic” crash before a long and slow recovery.
Dwarfing previous downturns, the economy contracted by 20.4% in April from March, when it shrank by nearly 6%. It was 24.5% smaller than in April 2019.
Both of April’s readings represented bigger falls than the dire forecasts in a Reuters poll of economists.
The Office for National Statistics said the economy had shrunk back to its size in 2002.
“This is catastrophic, literally on a scale never seen before in history,” Paul Johnson, director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies think tank, said. “The real issue is what happens next.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the figures were no surprise as Britain’s huge services sector was being hit particularly hard by social distancing measures, but he said a recovery would follow.