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2020 Ends with Mixed Figures and Some Hope for 2021

The end of 2020 has brought with it a set of mixed numbers, as both Brexit and the Covid-19 crisis have caused huge problems. Yet, when we look ahead to next year, the hope of a positive Brexit deal and coronavirus vaccine leads many experts to believe that the worst may be over.

Inflation Falls

The figures for November show that inflation fell, with the consumer prices index dropping from 0.7% in October to 0.3% last month. This was lower than expected, with experts having predicted a 0.6% rate for November. On the other hand, house prices reached a level not seen since 2004.

The key factor behind this was the falling prices in areas like food and clothing, with many clothing outlets lowering their prices during the second lockdown. However, increasing toy prices helped to avoid the drop being too sharp. Another issue was that many Black Friday deals were extended across the full month.

This was followed by some of the worst shipping delays in recent years at the start of December. The IHS Markit and the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply produced the numbers to show that delays were worse than at any time other than the early 1990s.

The delays were attributed to stockpiling before Brexit, as well as increased demand for Christmas and the on-going backlog caused by global restrictions. They also pointed out on their flash purchasing managers’ index that the British economy rose from 49.0 in November to 50.7 in December. Many businesses continue to use international commercial debt recovery to make up for lost revenue.

Retail sales also fell in November, with a 3.8% decrease noted when compared with October. This meant that the run of six consecutive months of rising sales came to an end. Online shopping continues to enjoy a boom period, though, with 31% of all sales being made online. Last year, this number was just 19%.

Redundancies Reach a Record High

October’s numbers show that the number of British workers getting made redundant was at a record high. As the government extended its furlough scheme at the last moment, 370,000 people lost their jobs in the three months to October.

This is higher than it has been since records began in 1992, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). At the same time, the headline unemployment rate in the UK increased from 4.8% to 4.9%, compared to 3.8% at the same time in 2019.

The ONS has pointed out that the country’s economic recovery was starting to slow even before the second wave of infections lead to the second national lockdown. They reported that GDP was up by 0.4% in October, which was the sixth monthly increase in a row but left the economy still 8% worse than before the pandemic started.

Among the items to sell more slowly in the run-up to the festive period are clothing and petrol, although food and drink has increased at the same time. For the moment, analysts are hoping that the vaccine and a suitable Brexit deal means that 2021 sees improved numbers in all of these different areas.