Britain's recovery from the coronavirus disease pandemic sped up in April as lockdown measures eased, with the fastest monthly growth since July leaving output a record 27.6 percent higher than a year earlier, when the virus was rampant and lockdown tightest, Reuters reports.
The figures on Friday from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed rapid growth in the services sector as non-essential retail and hospitality businesses opened their doors after months of closure and schools fully restarted.
Economic output grew by 2.3 percent month-on-month in April, marking the fastest growth since July, the ONS said, and slightly above the Reuters poll consensus for a 2.2 percent increase.
"The jump in GDP in April was another sign that consumers are raring to spend as the economy reopens," said Thomas Pugh, UK economist at consultancy Capital Economics.
However, British economic output remained 3.7 percent below its level in February 2020, before the pandemic led to lockdown measures, the ONS said.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson wants to fully lift lockdown restrictions in England on June 21, helped by a swift roll-out of vaccines that has brightened Britain's economic outlook.
But with the Delta variant first detected in India spreading fast, Johnson has said the lifting of lockdown could be delayed.
April's growth came despite an unexpected 1.3 percent drop in industrial output, reflecting widespread maintenance of oil rigs and a shortage of computer chips for car manufacturers.
Output in the services sector jumped by 3.4 percent in monthly terms in April - above all forecasts in the Reuters poll that pointed to growth of 2.8 percent.
Schools reopening added 0.7 percentage points to GDP growth in April, while the retail and wholesale sector added 0.9 percentage points, the ONS said.