Shortage crisis puts brakes on UK’s pandemic recovery


HE UK’s economic recovery from the pandemic is stalling as consumers pull back from spending and businesses face new threats from supply chain chaos and staff shortages.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics offer a cloudy picture on the state of post-vaccine Britain, with the spring boom as the economy reopened replaced by a summer lull.

The latest “real-time” analysis of measures such as jobs, shipping, credit card spending and road traffic suggests an economy in second gear.

That comes despite booming numbers from firms across a host of sectors.

The ONS said retail footfall in the last week fell 2%, and was at just 80% of the level seen in the same month in 2019. Spending on debit and credit cards was flat, as were online job adverts.

Shipping fell 3%, a sign of the supply chain issues that have seen shortages in numerous goods and left supermarket bosses warning of a potential hit to Christmas sales.

The figures illustrate a wider concern among City economists that GDP growth is sliding. If that continues there is a risk of dreaded stagflation — the economy falling just as inflation rises.

The warning took the shine off a set of solid figures from corporate Britain.

Hays saw the sharpest jobs market recovery in its 53-year history in the first half of 2021, the white-collar recruitment giant’s boss said today.

CEO Alistair Cox told the Standard that the UK’s “huge skills shortage” in multiple areas is leading to wage inflation — particularly in tech roles.

Banking recruitment in the City has picked up quickly, with a significant increase in specialist jobs and rapid hiring in roles linked to the booming IPO market, Cox said. The capital’s legal sector is also “recruiting very aggressively” with salaries rising as a result.

Budget fitness giant PureGym has returned to profitability after a “shockingly challenging first quarter” during which it was shuttered and losing over £500,000 per day. T

he group, which suffered a £214.6 million 2020 loss, said 94% of members are now back and recorded second quarter with profit of £16 million.

Shares in Qantas rose sharply as Australia’s flagship airline forecast a full return to travel by December, despite clocking an annual loss of $1.7 billion.

Dating app Thursday said London’s millennial workers are returning to offices, with a significant shift in activity from suburbs to the Square Mile.

Fidelity’s Tom Stevenson said: “Things businesses took for granted like finding workers and supplies can no longer be relied on. This means rising input costs, margins under pressure, inflation.”

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