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UK firms not seeing 'V'-shaped recovery - British Chambers of Commerce

Thu, 1st Oct 2020 22:30

LONDON, Oct 1 (Reuters) - Many more British companies
reported a fall in sales over the past three months than
experienced an upswing, despite the lifting of lockdown
restrictions for most parts of the economy, the British Chambers
of Commerce (BCC) said on Thursday.

"Economic conditions remained exceptionally weak in the
third quarter," BCC economist Suren Thiru said.

The BCC's quarterly economic survey - the largest of its
kind in Britain - showed that 46% of firms surveyed reported
that sales had fallen over the quarter, compared with 73% who
reported a decline in the second quarter.

Just 27% of the 6,410 businesses surveyed between Aug. 24
and Sept. 14 reported higher sales than three months earlier.

The hospitality and catering sectors - which still face
significant COVID restrictions on the size of events - were the
most likely to report a further fall in sales.

"While the declines in indicators of activity slowed as the
UK economy gradually reopened, they remain well short of
pre-pandemic levels with little sign of a swift 'V'-shaped
recovery," Thiru said.

Britain's economy shrank by an historic 20% in the second
quarter of 2020 after output collapsed in April, and the most
recent official data show output in July was 11% below last
year's level.

Bank of England chief economist Andy Haldane estimated on
Wednesday that output at the end of September was just 3%-4%
below pre-crisis levels, and said those who took a less upbeat
view risked undermining the recovery.

Some 41% of businesses in the BCC survey expected sales to
improve over the next 12 months, compared with 35% who expected
a decline.

However the BCC said rising coronavirus cases and more
widespread local lockdowns since the survey concluded raised the
danger that recent gains would go into reverse.

"Economic scarring already caused by the pandemic (is)
starting to crystallise," Thiru said.
(Reporting by David Milliken; editing by Stephen Addison)

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