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ONS bulletin: The impact of the coronavirus so far: the industries that struggled or recovered, and Business insights and impact on the UK and sub-national economy

The impact of the coronavirus so far: the industries that struggled or recovered

Main points

  • The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has had a huge impact on the economy, but some businesses have been harder hit than others. While overall GDP fell by more than a fifth in April and May, sectors such as hospitality were down by 90% compared with a year ago.
  • Online shopping has been gaining an ever-greater share of retail sales for a number of years, but COVID-19 saw it rise sharply as many shops had to close.
  • After shops reopened in June, online as a share of total retail dipped only slightly before growing again. Among physical stores, dispensing chemists – allowed to remain open during lockdown – sold consistently more since the pandemic began than before. This is also the case for non-specialised food stores, which include supermarkets.
  • Even when restrictions in the UK were eased so people could go on holiday, turnover in the accommodation industry was still down on a year ago. However, camping proved popular, even surpassing its performance last year.
  • The size of the business was not as important as the type when it came to turnover. While larger service companies traded at higher levels than smaller ones, small companies tracked big ones closely in manufacturing.

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Business insights and impact on the UK and sub-national economy

Main points

  • The single site approach presented in this article currently provides our best estimates of regional and local authority business insights and impact for the following Business Impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) Survey (BICS) variables: trading status, financial performance, cash reserves and workforce status.
  • In 16 to 29 November 2020, England had the lowest percentage among the UK countries of single site businesses currently trading, at 76%, with the North East of England having the lowest percentage among the English regions, at 66%.
  • England had the highest net percentage of single site businesses experiencing a decrease in turnover, at 41%, compared with Scotland and Wales, both at 39% and Northern Ireland, at 30%.
  • England had the highest percentage among the UK countries of single site businesses with between zero and three months of cash reserves, at 35%, with the North East of England having the highest percentage among the English regions, at 38%.
  • Scotland had the highest proportion of the workforce in single site businesses on full or partial furlough, at 15%, compared with 14% in both England and Wales, and 11% in Northern Ireland.
  • The results in this release are likely to reflect both structural differences between different countries and regions of the UK, but also differences in the nature and timing of restrictions that have been put in place to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

There is an interactive map that allows users to explore how business impacts differ by local authority, based on single site weighted BICS results from 16 to 29 November. To embed this in your online reporting, use the following code: http://a%20href=

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