British Chambers of Commerce Head of Economics, Suren Thiru, said he was hopeful of a “robust rebound” in the second quarter after figures from the Office for National Statistics showed the UK economy shrank by 1.5% in the first quarter of 2021.
This was largely due to the lengthy winter lockdown, which included school and business closures. However, there was a strong recovery in March with the economy growing 2.1% boosted by retail spending and the return of schools.
The economy is now 8.7% smaller than it was before the pandemic.
Mr Thiru said: “While the UK economy contracted in the first quarter, the downbeat headline figure masks a renewed momentum through the quarter from January’s drop in output to an exceptionally strong March outturn as lockdown measures started to ease.
“The decline in economic output in the first quarter largely reflected the squeeze on activity from Coronavirus restrictions, which was partly offset by growing business resilience to those restrictions and a monthly boost from the reopening of schools in March.
“The first quarter decline should be followed by a robust rebound in the second quarter as the effects of the release of pent-up demand, as restrictions ease and the strong vaccine rollout, are fully felt.
“However, with the longer-term economic damage caused by Coronavirus likely to increasingly weigh on activity as Government support winds down, the recovery maybe slower than many, including the Bank of England, currently predict.”