Economists warn 'way back will be much slower' for UK economy

Economists may be paid to worry, but on Friday they reacted particularly gloomily to April’s unprecedented collapse in UK economic activity, suggesting that the country could be facing a protracted and uncertain recovery. “The economy will take a long time to recover from the pummelling inflicted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Tombs said, noting that the contraction in gross domestic product (GDP) since January now exceeded 25%. “Falls in employment and investment, accompanied by a persistent rise in saving by households, likely will ensure that the economy remains a shadow of its former self later this year, even if most restrictions are removed,” he said. Calling the collapse in economic output “truly brutal,” Ulas Akincilar of online trading platform Infinox said that the latest data was “record-breakingly bad by virtually every possible metric.” Though there was considerable disagreement among analysts about the potential scale of the April downturn, the 20.4% decline was larger than the consensus estimate of 18.4%. “It will be a long time before this growth is made up, though, and unemployment is poised to start rising as the furlough scheme is phased out,” said Melissa Davies, the chief Economist at Redburn.